Yesterday, I asked a question about a policy that the Government is piloting in parts of London, including Croydon, whereby young people who are unemployed and have never had a job will have to do some voluntary work in return for their benefits.
At the moment, many young people are unemployed through no fault of their own. In the long-term, we need to grow the economy so that there are enough jobs for everyone. The Government believes that the keys to doing that are dealing with the deficit, getting the banks lending again and diversifying our economy so that we make things in this country once again rather than relying solely on financial services.
But these things take time. So in the short term we need to do all we can to help those struggling to find work. That’s why the Government has massively expanded the number of apprenticeships (up by nearly 200,000 in its first year), why it has changed the help available from Job Centre Plus and why it is now trying to ensure that young people who are out-of-work are doing something productive rather than sitting at home.
This is bound to be controversial but I think it is a good policy. It’s better for the young people concerned - it should make them more attractive to employers by hopefully giving them a good work ethic, new skills and a positive reference. And it's also right in principle that people who have never paid anything in to the system shouldn’t be able to take out without doing something in return.