Ruth Mitchell

Think tank urges businesses to hire ex-cons

Businesses could be paid to take on ex-offenders under new plans outlined by a national think tank.

The Policy Exchange, which made headlines last month with its radical plans for combating the North-South divide, described measures which could save taxpayers ‘up to £300m’ and reduce ex-offenders’ likelihood to re-offend.

The group said payouts would go to businesses, public sector organisations and charities to take on ex-offenders, with extra money going to businesses who take on offenders who are ‘most difficult to place’.

Ben Ullmann, one of the report’s co-authors, said: “By using the structures already in place for welfare-to-work programmes, the government could take real strides in breaking the vicious cycle of crime and re-incarceration.”

But businesses said the idea is ‘nothing new’.

“We already see that with apprenticeships,” said a spokesperson for business lobby group the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). “Employers should be allowed to choose the best person for the job - in some cases that may be an ex-offender.

“A transparent policy should be put in place which indicates the employer is keen to take on ex-offenders. There can be problems where an employer takes on ex-offenders, as other staff may be sensitive and such sensitivities need to be handled by the employer.

“An up-front policy in employment practices within the firm should address such issues.”

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