Labour announces benefit reform for Britain’s unemployed youth

June 23, 2014 6:00 am

On 19 June Ed Miliband outlined Labour’s welfare reform proposing to deny some young unemployed people benefits dependent on their willingness to partake in training.

His proposal is that those people under the age of 21 who are applying for Job Seekers Allowance and are not trained should have to go back to college to a gain a skill or qualification the equivalent of an A-Level in order to be eligible for financial support from the state.

This would not impact people with suitable employability but is designed to benefit the future career prospects of young people, who are not already qualified in a transferable skill, by paying them to get back into education. The current JSA cannot be claimed if the person is in a training programme, which is what this policy hopes to address.1402449112079.jpg-620x349

Parents of these children will be Means tested so as to calculate the level of benefit they will be entitled to. Only if their combined income is less than £42,000 annually will their children qualify what is being called Youth Allowance.

Refusing to become involved with this training would result in the denial of any and all welfare for that person.  Labour estimates 100,000 people would lose their out of work benefit.

The recent polls have made a bleak assessment of Miliband’s performance as leader and many are seeing this welfare reform as a ploy to prove his position at the head of the Labour party. The poll not only saw him losing out to David Cameron in the popularity stakes, but also registered that many voters concluding that his brother David would have been a superior candidate for Prime Minister.

The proposal has its critics, however, with the Chancellor George Osborne categorizing it as a recipe for disaster consisting of, “more spending and more borrowing,” in order to sustain the scheme. The PSC Union is quoted as calling the pledge, “Thoroughly depressing.”

cash6In spite of this, Miliband maintains that this new Youth Allowance is not an act of big spending stating that, “We can’t just make do and mend, and we can’t just borrow and spend money to paper over the cracks.”

One of the conditions of the allowance is that it not only depends on parental income but on how long the individual has been in work previous to claiming the support.

“The next labour government will change the way JSA operated to make sure that someone who has been working for years and years and paying into the system gets more help if they lose their job than someone who has been working for just a short time.”
The idea is that rather than just placating young people on benefits it gives the individual the opportunity the change and progress their own life and career, leaving them with the ability to support them-selves financially and realise a wider potential.

Reforming the way young people claim benefits is not a new concept. Last year the IPPR proposed a similar policy to the one announced today but Rachel Reeves, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, dismissed the similarities.

“In October the policy was all 18-25 year olds, regardless of whether they had worked previously, regardless of whether they already had qualifications; A levels, vocational qualifications, university degrees. It was also restricting housing benefit for everybody under the age of 25, so the policy today is a very different policy.”

As well as tackling youth unemployment, Labour’s reform to this part of the benefit system is also designed to shake off their ‘Welfare Party’ reputation. In the metaphor of the carrot and the stick, a policy like this is most definitely the latter.

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