- “Government complacency is betraying a generation of unemployed” says former PM, Gordon Brown
- Only 3 in every 1000 under 25s without a job have accessed Kickstart
- “Scandalous failure” says Brown that not one jobless adult has yet been helped by Restart
- Budget must “out match the scale of the looming unemployment tragedy”
Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, says the Chancellor must scale up and extend job support schemes for the unemployed in his budget this week or risk “betraying a generation of unemployed.”
His comments accompany a report published today (Monday, March 1) by the Alliance For Full Employment(AFFE) which estimates there are now at least 1,000 under 25s in every constituency in Britain now classed as long term unemployed – that is without a job for at least 6 months.
And research for the AFFE shows just 3 in every 1000 of our now long term unemployed under 25s have been able to receive help from the government’s job opportunity Kickstart scheme – despite the government’s promise of that it would deliver 250,000 Kickstart jobs places. Mr Brown is leading the AFFE call for Kickstart to be scaled up and extended beyond its current December 2021 end date to meet the estimates – and protect the life chances – of one million under 25s who are expected to be out of work by the end of this year.
Mr Brown says Chancellor must also bring forward the start date of Restart, the government’s promised adult unemployment scheme, which is not due to get underway until the Summer. Unless Restart is fast forwarded access to help for too many unemployed adults will not be available until winter 2021 when they will have been out of work for 18 months.
“Government complacency is betraying a generation of unemployed,” says Mr Brown. “The pandemic hit a year ago but the government’s failure to move quickly is condemning a whole generation of young people to joblessness and rejection and many to mental depression.
“The government won’t release regional data to tell us what’s happening on the ground but the research suggests in a city of half a million people like Liverpool or Bristol or Manchester the numbers in the work programmes under Kickstart are a little more than 20 and at best 30 in each place. There could be as few as 10 Kickstart in Newcastle maybe and perhaps just half a dozen in hard hit Blackpool, currently an unemployment blackspot.
“And worse even than this shocking blow to young people, is the scandalous failure so far to place just one adult on the Government’s programme for the long term unemployed. “The Restart programme was supposed to offer a job to those have been out of work for 12 months. By the time men and women are offered places this summer and autumn, thousands will have been out of work for 18 months.”
“The time for the Chancellor to act is this Wednesday. His budget must kickstart Kickstart and restart Restart. He has to deliver a budget with the impetus, ambition and money to out match the scale of the looming unemployment tragedy.”
According to The Office for National Statistics, there are now 470,000 adults and young people now officially registered as long term unemployed – that’s men and women who have been out of work for more than a year and young people without jobs for 6 months and more. The Learning and Work Institute predict that figure could rise to 800,000 and may even surpass 1 million in the next few months. The report, “Budget 2021: Kickstart Kickstart & Restart Restart,” contains ten summary recommendations to the Chancellor to enable him to manage the jobless crisis and the economic transitioning now needed alongside government management of the pandemic.
- The extension of furlough until lockdown ends and then the introduction of a decent long term, part time wage support scheme to support businesses re-starting economic activity. This should not just be a continuation of the existing scheme, but a new system modelled on the German system with large enough incentives to retain staff and provide a security net for future crises.
- Target new job creation in industries that are either wholly understaffed (i.e. social care) or emerging (green transition renewables, decommissioning and domestic sector adaptability); train, skill and up skill worker to be able to meet the job requirements.
- Consideration of a short term incentive to persuade employers to take on more people, for instance by reducing National Insurance Contributions for New Hires
- Advance the parts of the £100 billion capital investment programme that can lead to immediate job creation, offering skills support for potential employees on infrastructure projects to help get the unemployed into work
- Advance the date for the start of Restart and give help to public authorities to take on the unemployed, preventing long term unemployment rises
- Increase the scale and reach of Kickstart to provide work based training for the 1 million young unemployed; ensure adequate support and training is given to find long term employment. Extend the length of Kickstart beyond December 2021.
- Fully funding the Million Adult Skills Announcement that could help the unemployed back to work. This must be at the £600 million a year level promised at the 2019 election, not the reneged 35% cut to £375 million.
- Provide sufficient help for people with fewer formal qualifications trapped in poverty, to access better paid work – as aligned with the Augar Review.
- Give Metropolitan Mayors and Combined Authorities Devolved powers to do what is needed for skills at a local level where it can be the best effective. Link re-skilling and training to workplace and employers’ needs.
- Reform the apprenticeship levy to increase the help available for employers to take on under 25’s, with an added increase to support 16-19 year olds, thereby boosting availability of apprenticeships and traineeships
Gordon Brown is a founder of the Alliance for Full Employment. He is UN Global Education Ambassador. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 2007-10 and was Chancellor of the Exchequer 1997-2007, the longest serving Chancellor in British history.
The Alliance for Full Employment was co-founded with the Metro Mayors of Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle City Regions, the First Minister of Wales and the Mayor of Bristol to encompass all regions and nations of the United Kingdom and to bring people together in support of for nationwide economic recovery policies that can prevent rapidly-rising redundancies and unemployment. We recognise the urgent need for working together – locally, regionally and nationally – to deal with the current jobs emergency and to meet the need for good employment that is well paid and fulfilling.