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Sunak to unveil £2bn youth unemployment scheme in coronavirus recovery package

UK News | Published:

The Government is facing pressure to assist those who are most vulnerable to the effects of a financial crisis.

The Chancellor will announce a £2 billion scheme aimed at alleviating youth unemployment by subsidising work placements when he sets out his coronavirus recovery package.

A three-point plan to boost the ailing economy by helping job creation will include a plan to help pay for six-month placements for some under-25s facing long-term unemployment.

Rishi Sunak will set out the measures in his summer economic update in the House of Commons on Wednesday, as he faces pressure to assist those who are most at vulnerable to the effects of a financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Labour will push Mr Sunak to “avoid additional floods of redundancy notices” by developing a “flexible” furlough scheme in areas where local lockdowns are put in place.

The Treasury acknowledged that young people are more likely to be furloughed under the job retention scheme which is being wound up and is due to end in October.

So a “kickstart scheme” hoped by the Treasury to create hundreds of thousands of jobs will be unveiled for 16 to 24-year-olds who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term employment.

Government funding would cover 100% of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week in the scheme that will be open to all employers across Great Britain, with bosses able to top up wages.

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“We also know that youth unemployment has a long-term impact on jobs and wages and we don’t want to see that happen to this generation.

“So we’ve got a bold plan to protect, support and create jobs – a plan for jobs.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the Government is “yet to rise to the scale of the unemployment crisis” and said the priority should be to abandon its “one-size-fits-all” approach to ending the job retention and self-employment schemes.

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“In addition, older people who become unemployed, and those living in particularly hard-hit areas, will also need tailored support,” she added.

Layla Moran
Liberal Democrat Layla Moran says the scheme will be ‘too little too late’ for many young people (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Eighteen-year-olds could be left being paid just £161 a week under this scheme, which in some parts of the country would barely cover rent and transport costs,” she added.

However, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, welcomed the measure as a “good first step” to prevent mass youth unemployment.

“But we’ll be checking the small print to ensure every job provides proper training and a bridge to steady employment,” she added.

And Confederation of British Industry director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said the plan “will be a much-needed down payment in young people’s futures”.

“By investing in skills, the Government can lessen the potential scarring impact of the pandemic for the next generation,” she added.

Thousands of jobs have been cut as businesses struggled through lockdown, with Royal Mail, Centrica, Easyjet and British Airways among those affected.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the speech, the Unite union said 2,200 DHL workers involved in the production of Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicles are being told that they could lose their jobs.

The 2,200 proposed redundancies comprise just under 40% of the entire DHL workforce on the contract, it added.

HEALTH Coronavirus
Easing the lockdown in England: key dates (PA Graphics)

It will include £2 billion for households to insulate their homes and make them more energy-efficient, but campaigners said the funding pales in comparison to the economic and environmental crises.

There has also been speculation that Mr Sunak will raise the threshold for stamp duty payment for property sales where it applies in England and Northern Ireland from £125,000 to £500,000.

But housing market experts have argued it is home-buyers in southern England who stand to benefit the most from the move.

Mr Sunak has also been urged to consider an emergency VAT cut to stimulate consumer spending and stem the 14% slump in GDP forecast by the Bank of England this year.

The UK’s unemployment rate could also soar to 14.8% with job losses comparable to the 1930s, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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