UK’s Sunak targets youth unemployment with $2.5 billion scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a £2bn “kickstart scheme” on Wednesday to create more jobs for young people.

The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Labour welcomed the move, but said the government had failed to “rise to the scale of the unemployment crisis”.

Mr Sunak is also expected to announce a temporary stamp duty holiday to stimulate the property market.

This would exempt the first £500,000 of all property sales from the tax.

The jobs pledge will form part of Mr Sunak’s speech, alongside a £3bn “green” fund and boosts for apprenticeships.

The government said it would lead to “hundreds of thousands of new, high-quality government-subsidised jobs”.

The Treasury said the “kickstart scheme” would be part of a “three-point plan for jobs… to help Britain bounce back from coronavirus”.

The CBI praised the first part of the plan as “a much-needed down payment in young people’s futures”.

The chancellor’s statement is expected at 12:30 BST (11:30 GMT), after Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Sunak announced he would deliver an economic update last week, after the prime minister set out his “new deal” to build after the coronavirus outbreak.

The chancellor has already outlined a number of measures in the build up, including:

  • Vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements as part of a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions
  • A pledge to provide 30,000 new traineeships for young people in England, giving firms £1,000 for each new work experience place they offer
  • A £1.6bn package of loans and grants for the arts and heritage sector
  • The doubling of front line staff at job centres, as well as an extra £32m for recruiting extra careers advisors and £17m for work academies in England.

For each “kickstarter” job, the government will cover the cost of the National Minimum Wage – £4.55 for under 18s, £6.45 for 18 to 20-year-olds, and £8.20 for 21 to 24-year-olds – for 25 hours a week, and employers will be able to top up the figure.

The government said it would allow young people “the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term sustainable work”.

The scheme will open for applications in August, with the first jobs expected to start in the autumn, and run until December 2021 – with the option of being extended.

It will cover England, Scotland and Wales, and the government said it would provide additional funding to Northern Ireland for such a scheme.


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