Former prime minister Gordon Brown is urging the Chancellor to extend job support schemes in his Budget this week or risk “betraying a generation of unemployed”.
A report by the Alliance For Full Employment (AFFE), set up by Mr Brown, estimates there are at least 1,000 under-25s in every constituency in Britain now classed as long-term unemployed – without a job for at least six months.
Mr Brown said the research showed that only three in every 1,000 long-term unemployed under-25s have received help from the Government’s job opportunity Kickstart scheme.
Mr Brown also urged Rishi Sunak to bring forward the start date of Restart, the Government’s adult unemployment scheme.
“Government complacency is betraying a generation of unemployed,” he said.
“The pandemic hit a year ago but the Government’s failure to move quickly is condemning a whole generation of young people to joblessness and rejection and many to mental depression.
“The Government won’t release regional data to tell us what’s happening on the ground but the research suggests in a city of half a million people like Liverpool or Bristol or Manchester the numbers in the work programmes under Kickstart are a little more than 20 and at best 30 in each place.
“There could be as few as 10 Kickstart in Newcastle maybe and perhaps just half a dozen in hard-hit Blackpool, currently an unemployment blackspot.
“Worse even than this shocking blow to young people, is the scandalous failure so far to place just one adult on the Government’s programme for the long-term unemployed.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “Gordon Brown is best remembered for leaving the economy in a terrible state, with much higher unemployment than we are bearing now. Whereas this Government has taken unprecedented action to support people to stay and get back into work.
“Our Plan for Jobs has been rightly targeted at those hardest hit. The Kickstart scheme has already created more than 120,000 jobs for young people in less than six months – more than Gordon Brown’s Future Jobs Fund ever created.”