Reports in the Sunday Times [28/9/14] that David Cameron is set to announce a package of welfare cuts targeted at young people have been branded ‘grossly irresponsible’ today.
The Sunday Times reveals that people between 18 and 21 are to be barred from claiming either jobseeker’s allowance or housing benefit, leaving a potentially catastrophic gap in support for young people who face difficulties at the start of their careers.
Meanwhile young people between 16 and 21 who are out of work for over six months will be forced to do ‘community work’ in order to receive benefits.
In Scotland, youth unemployment has fallen from 91,000 to 65,000 over the last two years and the Scottish Government has set a target of providing 30,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year by 2020.
The most recent labour market statistics showed that at 55.6 per cent, Scotland has a higher youth employment rate than the 51.6 per cent rate for the UK as a whole and that the youth unemployment rate has decreased by 2.9 percentage points over the year.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly called on the UK Government to fully adopt the EU’s Youth Guarantee, which would ensure an opportunity of a job, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship for every under 25 within four months of becoming unemployed – but the UK Government has refused.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:
“These punitive plans are grossly irresponsible and are far more about raising cheers on the Tory backbenches than any serious effort to address youth unemployment.
“Young people need opportunities, not the threat of being cut adrift if youth unemployment is to be tackled.
“With the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament, the SNP has a strong track record of leading the way on supporting our young people into work, training or education.
“That success has come thanks to our focus on positive action, not headline grabbing attacks on young people and we are on course to deliver 30,000 modern apprenticeships by 2020.
“We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to fully adopt the European Union’s Youth Guarantee – which would transform the lives of thousands of young people in Scotland alone.
“If David Cameron was serious about addressing youth unemployment, he should be looking to Scotland rather than his party’s most rabid voices.”
Notes: David Cameron’s plans can be viewed on page 7 of the Sunday Times 28/9/14.