Home Economy Millions of people not working is ‘unacceptable’ says Labour

Millions of people not working is ‘unacceptable’ says Labour

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The new Labour government is taking a firm stance against increasing worklessness in the UK. Liz Kendall, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has called the current levels of unemployment “unacceptable” and proposed several measures to address the issue.

Among these measures is the introduction of a national jobs and careers service aimed at combating record youth unemployment and the growing number of individuals out of work due to long-term sickness.

On her first ministerial tour, Ms Kendall will also unveil a localised strategy to upskill unemployed individuals and tackle the underlying causes of joblessness.

However, the Conservative party has criticised the proposed reforms, warning of the significant financial burden on taxpayers. “Unless action is taken, the working-age welfare bill will rise by more than £20bn a year by the end of the decade,” a Conservative spokesperson stated.

Ms Kendall’s key proposals include merging the National Careers Service with Jobcentre Plus to streamline efforts in getting more people into work and helping them secure better-paying jobs. Currently, the National Careers Service, which provides career advice, is managed by the Department of Education, while Jobcentre Plus, which focuses on welfare applications, falls under the Department for Work and Pensions.

Labour’s plans also feature:

New work, health, and skills plans

: Targeting “economically inactive” individuals who are not seeking or available for work, led by local mayors and councils.A “youth guarantee”: Ensuring that everyone aged 18-21 has access to training, apprenticeships, or assistance in finding work to prevent early exclusion from the workforce.

Ms Kendall emphasised, “Economic inactivity is holding Britain back. It’s not good enough that the UK is the only G7 country with employment not back to pre-pandemic levels.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, nearly 11 million working-age people in the UK do not have jobs. Of these, about 1.5 million are unemployed, actively seeking work, while the rest are considered economically inactive. This latter group has grown due to early retirements, health issues, and childcare affordability challenges.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has endorsed the government’s proactive measures. Kate Shoesmith, REC’s deputy chief executive, remarked, “The rewards are tantalising for the government if it can harness the personal choices individuals make in needing and wanting flexible work opportunities.”

Disability equality charity Scope welcomed the government’s “positive vision” but stressed the importance of reassuring disabled individuals that they won’t be forced into unsuitable jobs or lose crucial financial support.

In May, Labour criticised former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his comments suggesting that claiming benefits had become a “lifestyle choice” and his pledge to address a culture of “sick notes.”

On Thursday, the Conservatives accused Labour of refusing to adopt measures to save billions from the welfare bill by the next parliament’s end.

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