A Penny For Your Thoughts

Alexander Johnson on how changes in the Manpower Services Commission will impact on state-run projects.

'There is a history in all men’s lives', observed Shakespeare. Indeed so, but in a year which saw the death of its founding father, George Ewart Evans, the oral history movement in Britain is at something of a crossroads. Changes in the Manpower Services Commission regulations this autumn will mean that many of the estimated one hundred state-run projects will fold up completely.

The changes in funding will be dramatic. They will rule out the purchase of essential items such as tape-recorders, effective planning for the future, and will greatly reduce the chances of funding a supervisor. Heavier emphasis will be placed on formal training rather than community benefit, replacing wages by 'benefit plus', normal benefit plus 10 pounds. This is a substantial reduction and, in the light of the failure of adult job training schemes in similar conditions, doubts have already been cast on the likelihood of recruiting and about the quality and commitment of those recruited. Generally they will restrict a project's autonomy and dilute its activities.

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