Young people who are looking for work could lose their benefits unless they agree to training courses under a Labour government according to its leader Ed Miliband.
The Labour leader who will be opposing David Cameron in the next general election announced his plans during a speech at the Institute For Public Policy Research. It is part of a series of measures aimed at making work pay; a fight back against criticisms that the Labour Party is too lenient on welfare.
His plans include disallowing 18 to 21 year olds entitlement to adult benefits if they have no qualifications. Instead, they will get a youth allowance if they accept vocational training equivalent to an AS level. Under the current Job Seekers Allowance system, you cannot be in training and claiming for benefits at the same time.
The youth allowance is currently planned to be £57, which is the same that is currently afforded to people who are under 25 on Job Seekers Allowance. It will, however, be means tested so that those with a family earning more than £42,000 per year will not be entitled.
In his speech, Ed Miliband also states his intentions to raise the Job Seekers Allowance from £72 to £100 a week for those who had been in work for five years before being made unemployed.
Ed Miliband said:[quote]How many times have I heard people say: ‘for years and years, I paid in and then when the time came and I needed help I got nothing out?’ Rewarding contribution was a key principle of the Beveridge Report. And it is a key intuition of the British people. But it is a principle that has been forgotten by governments of both parties.[/quote]
Conservative MPs have hit back against the party’s plans claiming it will just lead to an even greater amount of spending and borrowing at the expense of taxpayers. Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said that it’s an expensive commitment.
Britain’s largest trade union and Labour’s biggest financial backer, Unite, has praised the plans. They have, however, criticised the use of threats in Ed Miliband’s speech calling in “Tory rhetoric”.
Steve Turner, the assistant general secretary, said:[quote]Our young people did not cause the economic crash and shouldn’t be made to pay for it. Any idea that they want a life on benefits is risible when all they want is a decent job and a future.[/quote]