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Thu, 24 September 2020

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Ministers Launch £2bn Drive To Tackle Youth Unemployment As Number Of Under-25s On Benefits Doubles

Ministers Launch £2bn Drive To Tackle Youth Unemployment As Number Of Under-25s On Benefits Doubles

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey insisted that this new scheme would put “young people at the heart of our revival” (PA)

3 min read

The Government is set to launch its £2bn ‘KickStart’ scheme on Wednesday as fresh data show the number of young people claiming benefits doubled during lockdown.

Under the initiative, young people on benefits will be offered six-month work placements with participating employers and will have their wages paid by the Government. 

It comes as official statistics reveal that the number of under-25s claiming Universal Credit has doubled since the start of lockdown, increasing by 250,000 to 538,000.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he hoped the scheme would help support the careers of those “open the door to a brighter future for a new generation”

He added: “This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.”

The Government is in the midst of a wider back to work push as it aims to revive the economy following the effects of lockdown and in advance of the end of the furlough scheme.

But figures from Transport for London suggested that commuters were not returning to the capital in droves, despite the Prime Minister telling his Cabinet that people were returning to work in “huge numbers across our country”.

Stats showed that tube use was only up 8% on the previous week, and down 72% compared to the same day last year.

However, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey insisted that this new scheme would put “young people at the heart of our revival” as she urged businesses to sign up. 

She said: “There is no limit on the number of opportunities we’ll open up through Kickstart and we’ll fund each one for six months as part of Our Plan for Jobs to create, support and protect jobs.

“Young people taking part will receive on-the-job training, skills development and mentoring, as we get them on that first rung of the jobs ladder and on their way to successful careers.”

Responding to the launch, Labour criticised the Government for the delay to the scheme, which is expected to take on its first participants in November.

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “Labour has repeatedly called for a youth employment scheme that matches the scale of today’s jobs crisis, just as the Future Jobs Fund did at the time of the global financial crash.

 “The Labour Government in Wales has done just that with its Jobs Growth Wales scheme: bringing local authorities, employers, trade unions and other stakeholders together to help young people into work without impacting older workers.

She added: “But the Conservative government's Kickstart scheme, which has been delayed, already looks like it lacks that cross-organisational coordination. It will only work if employers and jobseekers have clarity and confidence that the scheme will lead to meaningful work. The Government can’t afford to get this wrong.”

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