Labour urges temporary jobs for long-term unemployed

 

Labour's Liam Byrne: "If you want welfare to work to genuinely work, then you need jobs"

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Labour has said it would offer the long-term unemployed a guarantee of a six-month job if it was in government.

Businesses would be given subsidies to hire people on a temporary basis, with those refusing a suitable job having benefits docked.

Labour said the move sent a "clear message" about its stance on welfare but admitted it could not commit to the scheme if returned to power in 2015.

David Cameron said the opposition was avoiding hard choices.

BBC political correspondent Vicky Young said Labour were setting out what should be done now rather than committing themselves to the measures if they were re-elected or making a future spending pledge.

The announcement, she added, must be seen in the context of the debate over welfare reform ahead of a parliamentary vote on Tuesday about scrapping the link between benefit rises and inflation by limiting most working age benefits to a 1% increase.

Labour said its plan, intended to help 129,400 people out of work for two years, would be funded by restricting tax relief on pension contributions available to higher-rate taxpayers.

The long-term unemployed would be offered 25 hours of work a week in the private or voluntary sectors at the national minimum wage for six months.

Welfare debate

The scheme expands Labour's existing jobs guarantee proposal which has up to now only covered 16-24 year old job-seekers.

Labour's shadow work and pensions spokesman Liam Byrne said the long-term unemployed needed to be "working or training and not claiming".

"I know that will be a culture shock for many people but for many more it will be a lifeline," he told the BBC News Channel.

Analysis

Labour's "jobs guarantee" isn't the guarantee of a full-time, permanent job for everyone who has been unemployed for two years.

The scheme, as envisaged, would aim to provide the long term unemployed with six months part-time work or training.

But as Labour are in opposition, the scheme of course doesn't exist at all.

And it isn't - yet - a firm manifesto commitment for 2015 - though it is similar to the Future Jobs Fund, which the party designed when in power.

Politically, though, it allows Labour to go on the front foot ahead of next week's vote in the Commons on benefit levels.

Labour will oppose capping the increase in most benefits at 1% for the next three years - a real terms cut. But they don't want to be seen as soft on "scroungers".

So they will argue that if the government were to adopt their idea of a "jobs guarantee" now, then the long-term unemployed would be compelled to participate in work or training schemes - and the benefits bill would come down.

This, they believe, will help them survive a coalition attack next week when both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems will say Labour just isn't serious about cutting the costs of welfare or making work pay.

"There is a vital principle at stake here," he added.

"The government promised us an awful lot on welfare reform...What is now happening is long-term unemployment is going through the roof. That is pushing up the welfare bill and to balance the books the government is having to raid working families tax credits.

"We are saying there is a different way to bring the welfare bill down."

The proposed subsidies, he added, were an acknowledgement of the fact that businesses expected to make a profit and would not take on new staff "for nothing".

While the headline rate of unemployment has fallen in the each of the last seven months, Labour says the number of long-term jobless is nearly 150% higher than in late 2010.

At the end of Labour's six-month scheme, workers would have to find a permanent job or revert to claiming jobseeker's allowance.

The £1bn cost of the scheme - which Labour hope could eventually be extended to those out of work for 18 months or a year - would be funded by introducing a 20% limit on tax relief on pension contributions for those earning £150,000 a year or more.

Labour said the current 50% limit on tax relief on pensions for the highest earners should be brought into line with the 20% level for basic rate taxpayers.

'Bizarre'

Ministers say the government's Work Programme, in which firms and charities are paid to help find jobs for the long-term unemployed, is "on track" despite opposition criticism.

The government insists nearly 10% of the initial participants have got into work and stayed there for six months, while 50% of those who have taken part have come off benefits.

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps: "You can't spend the same money twice"

Mr Cameron said a million private sector jobs had been created since the coalition government came to power in May 2010 and claimed Labour was "just not focused on the big challenges" confronting the UK.

"This is sort of reheating a rather unworkable scheme that we inherited in 2010," he said.

"I think what Labour really need to focus on is their bizarre decision to support benefits going up faster than wages, which is what they are going to be voting for on Tuesday."

The Treasury said Labour had already earmarked cuts in pension tax relief to reverse austerity measures and was effectively spending the same money twice.

In response, Labour said that while it remained opposed to government cuts in tax credits, it could not commit to reversing the changes until it had seen the state of the public finances after 2015 and the money saved was now needed to help people into work.

 

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  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 1150.

    1083. bedbug97

    I am one of these unemployed youths you speak of. I'm on the highest rate of jsa, it's nowhere near the figure you claim. Please go back to reading your daily mail, lest you look like a very uninformed bigot. Or an educated tory.

    If you were so smart, why would you work yourself to death when you could be like me, and get bigoted idiots to do it for you?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1149.

    1025.
    Bazzad Your concept and understanding of recent history is seriously flawed. Just to bring you up to speed in case you have woken up from a long 30 year sleep. Thatcher's Tory government destroyed manufacturing, society and the nationalised industries. She created "big bang" nimbys, greed and dishonest banking. If you are capable of reading try YK political history from 1967 onwards!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1148.

    Financially illiterate stuff from the man who, don't forget, left a letter to his successor laughingly pointing out "Sorry there's no money!"

    It's precisely this kind of "spend the same money three times over" that got us into this mess in the first place. You can only confiscate private wealth to cover up your incompetence once. Next time around it's all gone and the same hard choices remain.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1147.

    1062
    simple for those kind of jobs dont metion the degree.
    or is it the case you do and know you will be turned down .
    do you realy want a job?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1146.

    The Tories want a low-pay, 'flexible' workforce. Labour claim not to, but flooded the market with immigrants, boosted the public sector with highly paid non-jobs, and over-emphasis on the City.

    Get training right, have an immediate immigration ban, cap benefits and target those who genuinely NEED them, and it would be cheaper and more effective than anything Labour or the Tories are proposing.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1145.

    "1127. Pete
    "OK Mr Balls , you want to be chancellor. What are your qualifications?"

    He was chief economic advisor to Gordon Brown, who claimed he had ended boom & bust. Who could be more qualified to think up Labour policies?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1144.

    153 & 266 - to "TheTakeleySocialist"

    I love your comments - if they're meant to be funny then they're quite amusing, and if they are meant to be serious then they're absolutely hilarious!

    Nice ratings by the way, it must feel warming to know that just about everyone disagrees with your crazy lefty points of view. :)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1143.

    Can someone from the "there are no jobs in my area" please explain why so many leave their own countries, some stow away on lorries to come and WORK here. Why was it that there were still more than 1 million unemployed even during the Illusionary Labour years of plenty.
    Please stay Ed Balls, you are the best vote winner the Tories never had.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1142.

    After going through a rough patch myself about 5 years ago, after 6 months unemployed I started subsidized work. I works my b****ks to the bone and got a perminent contract. while there, I learned how to program machinery and draw and I now work for another company as a systems programmer earning a good wage and I enjoy my job. But I had to work to get here, and thats the problem for most people

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1141.

    Excellent; we would do it if we were in power but not if we get into power. The sort of nonsense that got us in the mess we are in.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1140.

    1127. Pete
    1 Minute ago

    "OK Mr Balls , you want to be chancellor. What are your qualifications .?"

    He's probably better qualified that George Osborne, but that ain't difficult!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1139.

    "Look at us, we're labour. We're a lesser evil than the tories, but still an evil nevertheless."

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1138.

    bakie
    OK, so tell me why is it my friends from Europe tend to find work within a week? A lot of them have basic English and little experence. I'm guessing because they come here with a months money in their pocket and no safety net so think £60/day is not as good as the £120 they would like but not as bad as £0. I get fealing lot of lTU think if I can't get £120 I'll get the £60 of dole....

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 1137.

    We will never have full employment here because we are attempting to employ most of central Europe and half the Indian sub-continent, plus, providing benefit to their families.
    Our production base is not large enough to sustain the massive influx of those needing jobs and houses.
    It will get worse in 2014 when even more of central Europe has freedom to come here.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1136.

    Governments have complained for years about people not saving enough for retirement, but constantly attack those who do. This measure might only affect "the rich" now but you can bet your life it would soon be extended to everyone with a private pension scheme.

    They should try encouraging investment by business instead, that way we might create some real jobs.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1135.

    I remember Gordon Brown saying British jobs for British workers.

    - I remember David Cameron saying the NHS was safe in Tory Hands.
    At least there is some possibility that GB wanted to do what He said

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1134.

    Re 911, 981 and 1090 Perhaps that rethink will lead to paid and pensioned jobs in local govt being replaced by benefit recipients? Overall, this actually reduces the public sector spend but, not good news for the current low-skilled workforce. Future job creation is likely to be more high-skilled work that will not help many of the longterm unemployed.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1133.

    1093. Stewart
    It was Thatcher who desired and set about creating a "post industrial Britain"…"

    It was Thatcher who realised we couldn't compete with the emerging economies on things like mining/shipbuilding because our standard of living (and thus cost of employment) was too high, so cut subsidies to these industries and encouraged a new set of opportunities for people where we could compete

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1132.

    Under Mrs Thatcher unemployment was at 3 Million.
    It was considered "Socially acceptable" because the economy was balanced.

    Now we have many more immigrants working for reduced income.

    Knock-on under employment (part-time/low waged) means the Taxman is short on expected income.

    Working Tax Credits are now 60% of the benefits budget.[Lot of fraud]

    EU has/will take us down to their poor levels.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1131.

    @IR35 - you sound bitter. Try working harder, if you don't feel you're well off enough.

    That's Tory policy, right ?

 

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