Tonight 200 people who worked with Government's Southside Rejuvenation Project are jobless.

It had been rumored from earlier in the week - but today it was confirmed by the Minister of State with responsibility for the Gang Truce, Mark King.

This morning, he held a remarkable press conference at the NCFC conference room this morning. We say remarkable because it's a very special public figure who can announce that 200 people are being fired, and - worse than that - warn that another 640 employed in the gang truce and CYDP will likely be sent home by October - because the budget is busted.

It left our heads spinning, but not Mark King, he was cool, calm and collected as he delivered a deathblow that would make even the most hardened critic of those programmes wince.

Here's how the press conference went:...

Hon. Mark King
"Effective August 10th 2012 the 2.29 million dollars allocated to these programs has been exhausted and the wages for the week of August 13th was paid through supplemental funds. Therefore effective today Friday August 24 we will be scaling back with 200 members from the south side rejuvenation project. These persons will be paid full salaries and severance which should last them through to October where we will then exhaust our energies to find projects for them to have a more robust employment."

Jules Vasquez reporting
These programs will continue to scale back with the remaining members until another program can be reasonably afforded or funded.

That "scaling back" means 200 of workers sent home today - and possibly another 640 more by October.

Hon. Mark King
"Our technical team from the ministry will then have continuous meetings next week in deliberation also with Cabinet and we will then make decision which is why I said I have to come back to you on how we are going to continue down scaling them - the entire program itself, because there are no funding for the program."

Jules Vasquez
"By October the remaining 640 will then have to also go their own way."

Hon. Mark King
"I would like to prelim that as yet for the fact that the technical team has not chartered a way forward as yet. So I will have to come back to you with those answers. But at the end of the day like as I have mentioned we are continuing to meet with our technical team and the ministry's technical people to try to understand how we will scale back because it's the entire program being scale back, everything. So this is just a starting point."

That's workers from the Southside rejuvenation project, the gang truce and CYDP programmes - WHICH AT its peak employed almost a thousand persons from the City's southside

Hon. Mark King
"A total of 824 persons were employed. 240 with the gang truce program and 584 persons with the Southside rejuvenation project. The total wage bill inclusive of Social Security payments stood at $158, 119.85 per week."

That's 7.5 million dollars per annum - and while it has come to an end this footage is from when they gathered in happier times, when government kept extending funding for what was basically a welfare programme that inevitably had to come to an end - and now it has found a rather abrupt one. And while former Minister Boots Martinez and Prime Minister Dean Barrow were there to share in the glad-handing at the time, today one man, a first time representative - at that - stood isolated in a small office conference room - far from the grand hotel halls where events had been held in the past:

Hon. Mark King
"As the minister task with this grand responsibility it pinches my heart to know that the program must come to an end as all other things. However reality steps in, we simply don't have the money."

And while he feels heart pain - most will feel pocket pain

Jules Vasquez
"However you appreciate there is a social reality; two realities, 1) man has to eat."

Hon. Mark King
"Jules, that is foreseen, everybody has to eat."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes but if they don't have, they have to get an end."

Hon. Mark King
"Remember the government's role is not to just provide employment, it's to create the environment."

Jules Vasquez
"Your government has offered itself as a welfare government."

Hon. Mark King
"Of course which is why we have said that we will seek to exhaust our energies with these other contractors to ensure that these people can be re-hired in some other fashion because I don't know Jules but maybe you could find the quarter of a million dollars a week I need, then you can talk from there. But this supplementary budget is exhausted and there is absolutely no other budget for it. We are a checkpoint my brother."

That checkpoint could also be a political turning point:

Jules Vasquez
"A large part of the UDPs unprecedented success in the city - UDP has not won Lake I since 1993, you should know that. Isn't a large part of UDP success in the city that so many people were employed in this program and now they are not employed? So then isn't it inevitable that you will face a consequence at the polls?"

Hon. Mark King
"I wouldn't want to project the polls I would say 4 years from now but what I can say is that what I will project is that these people will be rehired in other projects and other programs by October."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you giving an absolute assurance to that?"

Hon. Mark King
"No, I am not and don't try to cling me to those quotations, I am saying that we will exhaust all our energies and we have already began discussions with our partners and it seems that it would be that way. It seems as though we would be able to find employment for these people outside of hanging on the government's payroll whereby there is no budget for."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, your party won a majority of seats in the city. It is widely believe based on the success of these programs that so many people were employed and I know that some were told that "vote UDP to save your job. if PUP wins you will lose your job" well UDP won and they are still losing their jobs. What would be your response to them?"

Hon. Mark King
"Jules, I think we all know the conditional circumstances right now with the restructuring and so forth with the government financing but I am sure it is not in the best interest of this government to be terminating jobs and so forth. This was a simple program that was designed for one year and those funds have dried up. It is as simple as that. This is neither connected to whether or not the government is taking away jobs from people. This is a one year program and just like every other program that has a budget for it that budget depletes - the program is over."

But for three years - it kept being renewed, ballooning more every time - and now - the bubble has burst removing what had become a social safety net - a move which is sure to have spinoff effects:

Jules Vasquez
"Are you concern that it will have a spiking effect on crime because the idea behind the program originally is that all these people are eating, so then it will reduce crime because they are getting a regular pay cheque."

Hon. Mark King
"Jules, I don't think that because you don't have a job you have the right to commit crime first of all and secondly the government has bent over backwards (for a lack of a better term) to try and hold up this program two years longer than it was budgeted for. Now back to your question, I simply think that yes there will some little repercussions or backlash, but I think if people understand what we are doing here."

But that may be asking for a lot - as many with few employable skills will now have to faced some grim social realities:

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, it was recently announce that there is 14% unemployment. 14.3% which is the highest since 1998. Are you concern that it will create an even wider imprint of unemployment?"

Hon. Mark King
"Jules, the reason I used the term downscaling and not terminated or fired was simply for the fact that we are already in discussions with private contractors and business partners that seems will be able to take on these two hundred persons by October. As I have stated the monies that we will give them by letting them off because there is no more money in that program to give to them should hold them up to that time - until that time when we are hoping that we would have been able to find an outlet for them to at least have a job. I really don't want to say that they will be unemployed to that extent."

But euphemize it how you want, money done - and the work, well that was done long ago:

Jules Vasquez
"Were tax payers receiving value for money employing 840 persons in these programs?"

Hon. Mark King
"We know there is the street way of saying well the government is just hiring these guys to do nothing so at the end of the day I think there was an atmospheric condition out there that know the programs weren't being effective as they were."

In fact, King says, if government had to do it again - he would advise against this kind of programme:

Jules Vasquez
"Would you advise the government to embark on such a welfare type program again?"

Hon. Mark King
"Absolutely not. I think that the government had all right to somewhat directly implement this program for the fact that they wanted to hold down the violence and get some people employed and things like that. But again as I have mention, I think that I should have been the right person this program was given to but 4 years ago so that I could have given it direction. We would have created a program whereby you would have taught a trade and at the end of the day you would have exited that trade and be place as a job placement and then at the end of the day you fetch for yourself after that because we educate you, we gave you something to do and that way you would earn your own dollars because we placed you in a job. So then you wouldn't have to come to an end with the funds because it would had what we called an exited strategy - a plan would have been there for this type of program."

So now, the only hope these workers have is that government will find something for them in the private sector for them by October.

King did not specify the severance package, but we understand those who worked with the project for over two years got paid 805 dollars, and those who worked under two years got 455 dollars.

Supervisors who worked over three years got 920 dollars and those who worked under two years got 520 dollars.

Government hopes that could held them over the Southside project starts in October where about 200 persons can be hired. They are also trying to find employment in the City Council's street works for another 75 persons.

Channel 7