One year ago this week, Conservatives launched our Plan For Jobs – a comprehensive and ambitious plan to help people back into work, earn more and gain the right skills so they can compete for the future jobs of tomorrow.
Supporting jobs is the right strategy both economically and politically – and it is clear our plan is working, with unemployment much lower than previously forecast and lower than in other countries, job vacancy levels higher than last year, employment growing, and household incomes protected.
Here in Wallasey constituency, 2,445 people were unemployed and claiming job seekers allowance or other unemployment related benefits at the end of May. We are determined not to leave these people behind.
Nationally, the economic damage wrought by the pandemic has caused the worst recession in this country for 300 years. In response, the government has provided over £400 billion of support to protect jobs and businesses through employment support, cash grants for businesses, loans, tax deferrals and tax cuts.
It is clear that our Plan for Jobs is working:
Peak unemployment is now forecast to be two million fewer than previously feared. The latest OBR forecast for peak unemployment is now at 6 per cent rather than the previously expected 12 per cent – that means two million fewer people out of a job than previously feared.
And the unemployment rate in the UK is lower than the US, Canada, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.
The labour market is performing strongly. Job vacancies (a sign of hiring intentions) in June this year are around 29 per cent higher than they were pre-pandemic. The number of people in jobs has also now grown for five consecutive months.
Other parts of the economy are showing signs of growth. Household incomes have been largely protected throughout the pandemic, consumer confidence has returned to pre-crisis levels, business confidence and intentions to invest are at historically high levels, and business insolvencies in 2020 were lower than in 2019.
Locally, we are making Liverpool a new Freeport, creating up to 14,000 new jobs and, this week, we have seen the future of Vauxhall Motors at Ellesmere Port secured.
Our Plan For Jobs actively creates jobs, helps people get jobs, and helps them get the skills they need:
• Kickstart. We know that young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which is why we have invested £2 billion in our Kickstart scheme to fully fund and create 250,000 jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. So far, over 40,000 young people have started a Kickstart job. Over the past month, between 2,000-2,500 young people have started a job each week.
• Restart. To tackle those specifically at risk of long-term unemployment, we launched the £2.6 billion Restart scheme to help 1.4 million long-term unemployed people on Universal Credit. The three-year long scheme will offer up to 12 months of intensive, tailored employment support to increase the prospects of finding a job. Private providers will be required to deliver support through a ‘payment by results’ model, so they are incentivised to help as many people as possible into work. Participants of the similar Work Programme (2011-19) spent over two months fewer days on benefits than those who didn’t enter the scheme.
• Doubling the number of Work Coaches. Personalised, intensive support for jobseekers is proven to make a significant difference to help them move back into work. That is why we are investing £900 million for 13,500 additional work coaches – doubling the number to 27,000 – which we achieved in just eight months. During the 2008-9 recession, Labour took longer to recruit fewer – twelve months for just 10,000 more.
• Investing in the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS). We have invested over £200 million into the JETS scheme for those unemployed for over three months. Applicants will be supported with CV writing, interview skills, and job search advice, as well as receiving individual, tailored support. To date, this has already helped support over 125,000 jobseekers.
• More skills for school leavers. We are giving young people who have just left school the skills they need to find work in high-value sectors, such as engineering, construction and social care. This will help 18 and 19-year-olds take high value courses at Levels 2 and 3 where work opportunities are unavailable.
• Generous Apprenticeship hiring incentive. We are giving SMEs £3,000 when they take on an apprentice of any age. This is a significant 35 per cent wage subsidy for an apprentice on the National Living Wage, and is in addition to the government paying 95 per cent of the training costs. So far, more than 70,000 apprentices have been newly hired under our new incentive payments, of which 50,000 were under 25-years-old. Over 90 per cent of apprentices remain in employment or go on to further training.
• Tripling the number of Traineeships for 16-24 year olds. We have provided funding to triple the number of traineeships, which consist of work experience placements, training and work preparation over a 20-week period. Almost 50,000 young people will benefit. We are providing employers – including Sainsburys and the British Heart Foundation – a £1,000 bonus to provide high quality work experience placements. 75 per cent of trainees go on to further work or study.
• Pioneering Lifetime Skills Guarantee. For the first time, any adult without a Level 3 qualification will be fully funded by the government to access free L3 courses, worth £3,500 each. There are 11 million adults without L3 qualifications. L3 increases the chance of getting a job and boosts earnings by 9 per cent.
• Expanding skills bootcamps. As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, we are expanding ‘skills bootcamps’ in England – short, flexible training courses lasting 12 to 16 weeks for adults wanting to upskill and retrain in digital, construction and technical skills. Participants are guaranteed a job interview on completion. This year, bootcamps are training nearly 20,000 people – including 11,500 in digital and 2,000 construction.
• Expanding Sector-Based Work Academies. To support those who are out of work with the new skills they need to re-enter the jobs market, we have provided funds to triple the number of Sector-Based Work Academies placements for unemployed benefit claimants. SBWAs, via employers such as Imperial College NHS Trust and Govia Thameslink, consist of pre-employment training, work experience placements and guaranteed interviews, so more people can get skills needed for in-demand jobs in their local area. We are delivering 80,000 placements this year, and since March 2020, around 65,000 people have enrolled in the programme – an average of more than 1,200 per week.
• A strong Youth Offer. We are offering a guaranteed foundation of support to all young people on Universal Credit with a new Youth Offer. This includes: 13 weeks of intensive support – including a referral to workrelated training or an apprenticeship, new Young People’s Hubs for those who need additional tailored work coach support, and Youth Employability Coaches for those with more complex needs.