Sunak pledges to make jobs ‘number one priority’ in Spending Review

Rishi Sunak is promising a multibillion-pound package to help hundreds of thousands of jobless back into work as he prepares to unveil his first Spending Review.

Ahead of his statement on Wednesday, the Chancellor said his “number one priority” is to protect jobs and livelihoods in the wake of the economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The review will include £2.9 billion over three years for a new Restart scheme designed to help more than a million unemployed people find jobs.

Under the programme, the Treasury said people who have been out of work for more than 12 months will be provided with regular intensive support tailored to their circumstances.

There will be a further £1.4 billion of funding to increase capacity in Job Centre Plus to provide additional assistance to those looking for work.

Mr Sunak will also confirm funding for the next stage of his Plan for Jobs – including £1.6 billion for the Kickstart programme, which the Treasury has said will create up to 250,000 state-subsidised jobs for young people.

The scheme, first launched in August, offering employers £2,000 for every new apprentice they take on, is to be extended to the end of March.

There will also be a £375 million skills package, including £138 million of new funding to deliver Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

Speaking ahead of his statement in the Commons, Mr Sunak said: “My number one priority is to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK.

“This Spending Review will ensure hundreds of thousands of jobs are supported and protected in the acute phase of this crisis and beyond with a multibillion package of investment to ensure that no-one is left without hope or opportunity.”

CBI policy director Matthew Fell said the Chancellor was right to focus on job creation as the economy looked to recover in 2021.

“Covid-19 has swept away many job opportunities, for young people in particular,” he said.

“The scarring effects of long-term unemployment are all too real, so the sooner more people can get back into work the better.”