The government has confirmed that it is prepared to pay for plastic surgery for tattoo-emblazened benefit claimants – if the inked-up individuals get a job offer first.
The unemployment eraser plan was confirmed in a Commons answer yesterday.
David Ruffley MP had asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions "what representations he has received on the provision of funding from the public purse for the removal of tattoos from benefit claimants."
Employment minister Chris Grayling decided this came under the remit of Job Centre plus, and produced a letter from the organisation's chief exec, Darra Singh.
Predictably, Singh informed Graling that "this type of use of funding is not collated at a national level", although "[o]ur Management Information would capture such a payment under the broad category of 'other payments to remove barriers' but would not show the low-level detail of tattoo removal."
However, Singh said that he was aware of a 2002 case "where a customer was allocated financial support to have tattoos removed".
Such a decision, Singh continued, was down to a district managers' discretion, "to make funds available to provide additional support to help customers overcome things standing directly in the way of securing employment".
Singh added: "There is no automatic entitlement, but where an Adviser deems the removal of tattoos as necessary to facilitate the take-up of a specific job offer and the cost represents good value for taxpayer's money, an award could be made. I envisage this only being in exceptional circumstances."
Of course, this raises a few questions. Firstly, would it make more sense to make money available to remove claimants' tattoos BEFORE they actually have the job interview? And, secondly, does Ruffley have any tattoos, and does he feel they've held his career back? ®