In his mini-budget today, the Chancellor is set to announce a £2bn investment into a new coronavirus employment scheme for young people. Under the scheme, the government will pay the wages of 18-24 year-olds working 25 hours per week. Employers have the option to make top-up payments. Although this youth employment boost has received a broad welcome, unions have warned that more support is necessary. Opposition politicians have voiced similar concerns. On Twitter, Lib Dem Layla Moran gave her reaction to the youth employment boost:
“This could be too little, too late for the corona class of 2020. 18-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. More needed from the Chancellor.”
On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak will announce additional measures to counter the economic impact of COVID19 in his mini-budget. Details of a new coronavirus employment scheme were announced on Tuesday. Under the latest youth employment scheme, employers are encouraged to take on young people at risk of long-term unemployment. The government will pay 100 per cent of the wages for up to 25 hours per week with the option open to employers to pay for the remaining 15 hours to complete full-time employment. The six-month Kickstart Programme is open to young people on Universal Credit. They also need to have the support of a work coach.
With minimum wage rates at £4.55 for people under 18, £6.45 for those aged 18-20 and £8.20 for people between 21-24 the estimated cost of the scheme runs to £2bn. Potentially, 350,000 young people will be able to get off the dole and take up a job instead. The government hopes that employers will train staff and offer them a job after the scheme runs out.
Employers can start submitting applications within one month, and the Treasury expects to see young people taking up a job within the Kickstart Programme by autumn.
COVID19 sees youth unemployment figures soar
An additional 250,000 people below the age of 25 have claimed benefits since March, and 700,000 university graduates and school-leavers are facing into a very different jobs market. The coronavirus crisis has wiped out thousands of jobs for 18-24 year-olds in different sectors, including hospitality, retail, and leisure.
The scheme aims to prevent thousands of young people from falling into long-term unemployment as a result of COVID19.
Rishi Sunak said: “Young people bear the brunt of most economic crises, but they are at particular risk this time because they work in the sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic.”
“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.”
Unions have praised this initiative as “a good first step.” Speaking to the Guardian, Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said:
“We must do all we can to avoid the misery of mass unemployment. The government should bring business and unions together in a national recovery council, so working people are not made to pay the price of this crisis and ensure we build back better, right across the country.”