Labour promise whole-term job guarantee scheme from 2015


March 2014

Labour promise whole-term job guarantee scheme from 2015

Labour have identified that they will implement and retain their proposed ëjobs guarantee schemeí, which is aimed at tackling youth unemployment in the UK, for the entirety of their tenure in parliament, should they win the 2015 General Election next year.

If instigated, the plan will see all 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for over 12 months to be given a tax payer financed job for a period of 6 months, with all who opt not to take the offer losing their benefit entitlements. 

Labour outlined that they would provide the additional finance required for the scheme by taxing banking staff bonuses and altering tax regulation for pensioners and top earners. 

The coalition government have criticised the proposed scheme, citing that the sums ëdonít add upí, and that funding has already been assigned to helping youth get into employment.

ëWelfare no longer an optioní

The scheme proposal has been identified by Labour as the partyís greatest manifesto promise in its history, topping its previous pledge to roll back house benefit cuts and re-implement the 10p tax bracket.

However, the Conservatives have warned that Labour will be unable to deliver on this promise as it has already pledged to utilise the funds from bank bonus tax on other areas of policy in the future, such as on a 25,000 house building programme.

Currently, it has been estimated that 917,000 people aged between 16-24 are unemployed, and Labour hope that their scheme will create a multitude of jobs in the private sector, where they estimate 80% of jobs will come from through the scheme.

The initiative will enable all unemployed workers aged between 16-24 given 25 hours of guaranteed work each week, whilst their employer must agree to give those skills training during this time. 

Labour leader Ed Miliband optimistically forecasted that the scheme will go a long way to helping the struggling youth in society at present, and argued that it was the governmentís job to ensure that all factions in society feel the effects of the countryís economic recovery. 

"We've got 56,000 young people who have been unemployed for over 12 months," he said.

"That is double what it was when this government came to power. They are not taking action to help our young people and a future Labour government will."

Mr Milibandís remarks were reiterated by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who identified that the scheme would undeniably be ëtoughí for the youth, but is a necessary measure in order to move societies mentality away from welfare dependency. 

"Those who can work will be required to take up the jobs on offer or lose their benefits," he said. 

"A life on benefits will simply not be an option."

The scheme will also be extended to young adults aged over 25 who receive Jobseekerís Allowance for longer than 24 months. 

Last month, the BBC learned that Labour had committed to fund the scheme for only a single year after the 2015 election but this has been extended to the whole 2015-2020 period.

The party is promising to fund the bulk of the scheme in 2015-16 by repeating its one-off 2009-10 tax on bank bonuses, which it says would raise between £1.5bn and £2bn.

In the subsequent four years of the Parliament, it says the scheme will be paid for by restricting pensionís tax relief for people earning more than £150,000 to the same rate as basic-rate taxpayers, expected to raise about £900m a year.

Financially Realistic?

Labourís pledge to utilise bank bonus tax in order to subsidise future policy is not the first time they have made claims of this nature, with the party previously coming under fire for their failure to deliver on their promises.

Back in 2011, Labour head Ed Miliband promised to tax bankers bonuses in order to fund a £1.2 billion house building programme, as well as £600 million worth of youth employment initiatives and £200 million of regional economic plans.

The government have argued that Labourís latest programme is simply a revamp of the Future Jobs Fund which was implemented by the previous administration, and was discarded by the coalition in the first year of their tenure.

Treasury Minister David Gauke has identified that the Future Jobs Fund was too costly for the government and taxpayer to subsidise, and forecasted that the new scheme would cost almost £3 billion each year. 

Mr Gauke warned the public that support for it would involve increasing the budget deficit later on down the line.

"This is a more expensive policy than Labour is prepared to acknowledge," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One. "And I am afraid the consequence would be more borrowing."

However, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has refuted this claim, arguing that Mr Gaukeís statistics and data are ëout of dateí. 

But Mr Balls said the new initiative was very different to past schemes and the Tories' figures were "out of date".

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has issued lukewarm support for the initiative, but its director Paul Johnson has warned that make such a public announcement so prematurely before the 2015 General Election will lower the potential return from bankers bonuses, as they will be able to alter their payment structures in advance and minimise the amount they are taxed in the future.