I’ve spoken to many young people in Stockton South who’ve told me they are fed up with the lack of opportunities under this government and not being able to find a decent job. Some of my own team are young people in this position too and it is nothing short of heartbreaking.
It says a lot about the Tories’ inept approach to running the economy that they are celebrating the recovery when 850,000 young people are still unemployed and millions more are feeling the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis.
The Tories take a sink-or-swim approach to Britain’s job market, an approach that would leave too many on the career scrapheap, not paying taxes and claiming benefits. The financial cost of a young person who spends a year out of work is over £2,000 a year in lost earnings, tax, and extra benefits. That is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money and young potential.
While the path from school to work via university is well established, our current institutions fail to provide an effective bridge between school and work for those who don’t go into higher education.
Too many people leave school without the qualifications they need to find decent work, setting them on a path of low-paid work and claiming benefits. Seven in ten young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance have skills below level three, but are prevented by benefit rules from training. That simply cannot be right, it makes no sense.
This waste of potential is bad for Stockton South, bad for Britain and bad for the young people themselves. We need a new social security system that people support and that supports people.
That’s why the next Labour government will equip young people with the skills and training they need to get a decent job and end entitlement to adult benefits for young people aged 18-21, unless they have good qualifications or work experience. We’ll also reform the social security system so it’s fair and affordable by rewarding those that contribute throughout their lives.
The Tories’ economic policies have resulted in fewer job opportunities and longer dole queues for young people in Stockton South. This approach has failed. The solution is to make our social security system fairer, and to give young people the skills they need to get a decent job and get ahead in life. Otherwise too many will face a wasted cycle of low-paid work and claiming benefits.
Around 100,000 young people – seven out of 10 of those claiming JSA – have skills below level three, but are prevented by benefit rules from training while looking for jobs.
Labour will end entitlement to adult out-of-work benefits including JSA for young people aged 18-21 and replace it with means-tested support conditional on them training, in the same way as government offers support to those in higher education.
Exceptions will include those already with the qualifications they need to secure decent jobs, as well as those with very young children or disabilities which prevent them preparing for work.