Ed Miliband has proposed that unemployed people ages 18-21 who refuse to take training courses to gain key skills could lose benefits under a Labour government. If implemented, 18-21 year olds will only get Jobseeker’s Allowance if they already have the skills to get a job.
Milliband has insisted that he can lead Labour to victory in the 2015 General Election, and has also said that Jobseekers’ Allowance for people who have been in work for five years will be increased. If he becomes Prime Minister next year, Ed Miliband vows to end entitlement to adult out-of-work benefits for 18-21 year olds with no qualifications in an attempt to increase motivation for unemployed youngsters an tackle the stereotype of “benefits Britain” with the working class.
Instead they will get a “youth allowance” if they agree to undertake vocational training equivalent to an AS-Level. Presently, people who are unemployed cannot undertake any training while looking for work under the benefit regulations. The new allowance will be paid at the same rate currently given to under 25s on Jobseeker’s Allowance, but there may be an increase in Jobseeker’s Allowance from £72 to £100 a week for those who have been employed in the previous five years.
However, it will be means-tested so those with a family income of more than £42,000 a year will not be entitled to the new allowance. The policy is expected to benefit around 100,000 young people. There will also be exceptions for those with very young children or disabilities which prevent them preparing for work, as well as those who already have qualifications.
According to Ed Miliband, the proposed changes will not cost the tax payer extra, focusing on “big changes, not big spending”. He said;
“We can’t succeed as a country with unskilled young people going from benefits to low paid work and back again without proper skills. Because it doesn’t give business the productive workforce they need. And it costs the taxpayer billions of pounds in extra welfare spending and lower productivity. So we’re going to change it.”
He has already announced Labour’s “jobs guarantee” scheme, under which 18-24 year olds out of work for a year will be offered a taxpayer funded job for six months. Those who refuse will lose benefits.
Trade Union Unite has welcomed his commitment to training and education but accused him of using “Tory rhetoric of sanction and punishment”. Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner said;
“Our young people did not cause the economic crash and shouldn’t be made to pay for it. Any idea that they want a life on benefits is risible when all they want is a decent job and a future.”
Currently, there are 1.04million over 18s on Job Allowance in the UK, and many over 18s with A-Level Qualifications and Undergraduate Degrees are struggling to find employment in the current economic climate. Although these proposals will decrease youth unemployment and encourage motivation to work, more jobs need to be created to allow an increase in youth employment.
Labour’s proposals will undoubtedly help those who have no qualifications to find work, but it will do little to help those who, like myself and many other students, seek summer part time and graduate jobs and have to compete in average odds of 80:1 per vacancy.