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BRITON VISITS UTAH FOR TIPS ON WELFARE REFORMS

SHARE BRITON VISITS UTAH FOR TIPS ON WELFARE REFORMS

Utah is earning an international reputation for innovative work- and welfare-reform projects.

David Hunt, the British secretary of state for employment, visited several Emergency Work Program and welfare reform sites Wednesday in the Salt Lake area. Hunt hopes to take ideas back to the United Kingdom to help cope with its unemployment problems."We've come over to Utah because we believe you have some of the most interesting and innovative programs," Hunt said during a news conference at Liberty Park. The park has 10 Emergency Work Program participants.

Whether Utah's successes will work in England is something they'll have to think about, he said.

Utah Human Services Director Michael Stewart lauded Utah as a reform leader with a great reputation. He said a Rand official tells people interested in welfare reform, "You first must begin in Utah."

The United Kingdom's unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent. "We have a tradition of unemployment benefits for everyone who is unemployed, without limit. We ask them to make themselves available for work," Hunt said. "A serious difficulty is arising with unemployment, and it's worse elsewhere in Europe. We are trying to remotivate people to come back into the world of work.

"I like the atmosphere of enterprise I find in Utah."

The Emergency Work Program, which benefits 600 households, is not a typical welfare program. Participants work 32 hours a week and search for a job for eight hours. They earn $68 a week, which is more than standard general assistance provides. Couples, who are not eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children, can get EWP, but both must participate unless they have a specific exemption. Only 18 couples have that exemption.

About 1,700 AFDC families are part of the Single Parent Employment Demonstration (welfare reform) project. They receive an enhanced grant for participation, but it's mandatory. Anyone who fails to follow a self-sufficiency plan loses $100 from the basic grant.

This is not the first time England has studied job training in America. "We used to as a government run all the training programs. We heard about your Private Industry Councils."

Those councils have been "translated" into training councils in the United Kingdom, he said.

Hunt and his entourage, which included British officials and journalists, also looked at Kennecott Copper Mine's high-technology training program and several other job initiatives, including Utah's job-training coordinating councils.

Before coming to Utah, he met with education and labor officials in Washington, D.C. From Utah, he will visit Los Angeles to view rebuilding efforts and discuss employment opportunity.