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Party politics and a focus on youth (un)employment

by on October 6, 2014

With the political conference season coming to an end, a couple of items relating to youth (un)employment from the conference floor have floated into our alerts.

Over the weekend, this piece highlighted David Cameron’s  call to ‘abolish long term youth employment forever’.  One soundbite of his Leader’s speech to conference was ‘If you put in, you should get out’. In terms of what this might mean for on youth unemployment, George Osborne promised to freeze working age benefits for 2 years in an attempt to ‘spend less on benefits and more on helping young people get jobs’.

David Cameron also mentioned a scheme to lower the benefits cap to £23,000, saying that the savings would be used to fund 3 million new apprenticeships for young people.

On the other hand, he also stated that those aged 18 to 21 who don’t find work within 6 months will have their job seekers allowance removed. This approach was summarised in the following soundbite: ‘We have a choice between paying our young people for a life on the dole or giving them the keys to a life of opportunity’.

And today, Vince Cable at the Lib Dem conference is reported here to have outlined plans to encourage more young people to take up an apprenticeship. A Lib Dem Government would propose to the Low Pay Commission that there be a single national minimum wage for 16 to 17-year-olds in work and first year of apprentices. This would mean over 31, 000 apprentices in the first year of their programme being paid at least £3.79, up from £2.73, a pay rise of more than £1 an hour.

I’m sure there will be more of this as we approach next year’s General Election. It’s interesting that the focus seems to be on young people. We haven’t yet noticed any alerts from party conference coverage relating to the other end of the working life.

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