Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/577/7212
Does the 'botch it' budget benefit young people?
Alistair Darling's budget, presented on the day that unemployment reached 2.1 million, was posed as a budget of 'job creation'. The youth unemployment rate stands at 15.1%, almost 40% of the 2.1 million unemployed in the UK.
This crisis is having a devastating effect on young people. A programme of job creation is urgently needed. However, the budget falls far short of what's needed.
Under-25 unemployment is on course to go beyond 1.2 million by the end of this year. Yet the government only plans to create 150,000 jobs in the public sector and 100,000 through offering cash incentives for private companies to take on young recruits. It is also aiming to create 54,000 extra college places.
However, in a clampdown on youth opportunities, it is capping the number of new people able to go to university in September at just less than 500,000, meaning tens of thousands of applicants will miss out.
The government is clearly planning to leave hundreds of thousands of young people on the scrapheap. The supposed safety net is a guarantee of a job or training for all under-25 year olds unemployed for 12 months, with the possibility of making this compulsory.
While more options for training and jobs are welcome, this 'safety net' in reality seems to be an extension of the current New Deal programme, forcing people to take low paid jobs for fear of having their benefits stopped, or taking part in training on how to get jobs, which misses the crucial fact that there are none around!
Young people need decent apprenticeships on a living wage with a guaranteed job at the end, not schemes that will force them into joining the seven in ten young people working in low paid jobs, often hugely insecure ones.
Also, how will the announcement go down among those like the 10,000 under-25 year olds in Birmingham who have already been claiming JSA for over a year and will now have to wait another eight months? A job or training should be offered from day one of unemployment, not after 12 months or longer.
Charities will be drafted in to provide part of the training. Already in place is a £10 million trial scheme run by the youth volunteering charity 'v', to enrol young people in 44 week long, 30 hour a week programmes, with little or no wages, with an NVQ level 2 qualification the only thing guaranteed at the end. In the 33 boroughs where this scheme is being piloted, the presence of a large group of medium-term, unpaid youth will invariably mean that they will be used to do jobs that would otherwise have been done by full-time permanent staff.
For these schemes to be genuine opportunities, the young people should be paid a wage comparable with those they are working alongside and they should receive a qualification and a guaranteed job at the end.
Protesting Visteon workers have raised the idea of retooling skilled workforces to provide green technologies; apprenticeships could be offered in these factories for young people who want to work and to combat environmental destruction.
An estimated 900 houses will be built as a result of this budget, but there are 4.5 million people on council house waiting lists, and an increasing number of unemployed builders! A real jobs budget would have sought to use these skills to provide the necessary building projects to solve the shortfall in homes.
Instead this is a budget that will result in attacks on working class people, youth and the unemployed. We cannot rely on Brown, Darling, Cameron or their capitalist parties to end the jobs crisis. We will have to fight for it!
In The Socialist 29 April 2009:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis