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THE reason that the Government’s work experience programme could become as contentious as its NHS reforms comes down to one fact: the inability of Ministers to keep their reforms simple.

That there are seven different schemes running concurrently explains, in part, the continuing confusion of Employment Minister Chris Grayling in interviews – these complexities played into the hands of those who contend that the jobless are being treated as “slave labour”.

If the detail and potential consequences had been subjected to more robust scrutiny, a flagship policy – driven by a desire to wean young people off benefits and into work – will not be in tatters because the minutiae were overlooked.

Why does every government, whether it be this one or its Labour predecessors, seem obsessed with making things as complicated as possible? What is difficult about lining up a suitable young person with a business – and then ensuring that they receive sound training to nullify the possibility of a charge of exploitation?

That said, it is disappointing that so many businesses opted out of the work experience programme at the first sign of controversy. Such a negative mindset will not help Britain’s recovery prospects.

Likewise, the Government should have embraced more small and medium-sized firms rather than relying upon big-name firms – they have the potential, time and staff permitting, to provide a more rounded learning environment than that offered by the major supermarkets. Lessons need to be learned.