One of this Government’s greatest successes is the dramatic reduction in the number of people claiming JobSeeker’s Allowance - particularly the number of young people.
In Croydon Central, unemployment is down by 39% since Labour left office - and youth unemployment is down by 44%. These aren’t just dry statistics - over 1,100 of my constituents who were unemployed have found a job and can now provide for themselves and their families.
But if we win the next Election, we want to do better still and abolish long-term youth unemployment. How would we do that?
First, we would continue with our long-term economic plan under which the UK is growing faster than any major economy and unemployment is falling faster than at any time in our history.
But we would also reform the system to ensure that all young people are either earning or learning.
We would replace Jobseeker’s Allowance for those 18-21 year olds who don’t have children and are fit to work with a new Youth Allowance. Most such young people find a job quickly. But those who haven’t found a job after six months would have to choose between taking an Apprenticeship, a Traineeship that leads to an Apprenticeship or a Community Work Placement, which would involve doing 30 hours useful work (making meals for older people, cleaning up litter and graffiti or working for a local charity) and 10 hours of job search activity a week.
And to ensure that they have a choice, we will fund three million high quality apprenticeships that combine training with experience of work and a wage.
That’s going to cost a lot of money. To pay for it, we will:
- reduce the cap on the total amount of benefits an out-of-work family can receive (which we introduced a few years ago – under the last Labour Government, some families were receiving over £50,000 a year) from £26,000 a year to £23,000 a year; and
- stop unemployed 18-21 year olds from claiming Housing Benefit in order to leave home (this will not affect care leavers, those with children etc).
Far better to spend public money helping young people to get into work than giving them their own home when the vast majority of people of their age who are working can’t afford their own place.