Amber Rudd to urge support for workers amid leadership speculation

The Conservative Party must offer support for workers of all backgrounds to “outperform” expectations, Amber Rudd is to say.

Ms Rudd, a potential contender in the race to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader, will use a major speech to set out her vision of a modern-day Conservative Party.

The Work and Pensions Secretary will say there is a “clear role” for the state in helping people “take advantage” of the changes in employment as a result of the increased use of technology to replace workers.

Setting out her ambition for the Tories to be the party for 21st century workers, she will say: “As Conservatives, we want every person, no matter their background, to progress in the workplace and outperform what society says they should be able to do.

“These values are at the heart of what I will do at the DWP.

“Automation is driving the decline of banal and repetitive tasks.

Amber Rudd with Theresa May
Amber Rudd with Theresa May (Nick Ansell/PA)

“So the jobs of the future are increasingly likely to be those that need human sensibilities: with personal relationships, qualitative judgment and creativity coming to the fore.

“And there is a clear role for Government to help people take advantages of these changes, and to help businesses create high-quality jobs.

“I don’t under-estimate the challenges ahead. Jobs are being made, remade and reshaped every day, as we find new ways to be useful to one another.

“But I remain incredibly optimistic about what we can achieve.”

She will say the Government is working to support people who change careers, drawing on her own experience of “daunting” moves.

“Changing career, perhaps several times, in the midst of working life can be daunting, particularly if you have a family to look after. I know, that’s the path I took,” she will say.

Ms Rudd will also reflect on her personal experience in the business world.

“I remember when my trading team at JP Morgan acquired a single, comically large, mobile phone, which one of us took home each night in order to contact Japanese markets at 2am,” she will say.

“Now, thanks to globalisation, digital technology, automation and connectivity, the world is being transformed.

“And there are huge opportunities for all of us: new and flexible ways of working, better services, and more inclusivity.”

Ms Rudd is viewed as a potential leadership contender representing the centrist, pro-EU wing of the Tory party but her precarious 346 vote majority in Hastings and Rye could count against her in the race to replace Mrs May.

She will also use the speech in London to tell the Tories they must embrace the opportunities technology brings instead of “harking for the past like Labour”.

“I understand that the certainty of the old industries, of guaranteed jobs for life, offer an attractive nostalgia,” she will say.

“But harking back to the Dark Satanic Mills of the past is not the solution.

“We can’t stop the clock, even if we wanted to.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “This speech completely ignores the reality that so many people in this country are trapped in poverty as a result of low-paid, insecure work.

“Employment support under thisGovernment is based around sanctions. That puts many people at risk of destitution instead of helping them find work that lasts and that lifts them out of poverty.

“Labour will end the cruel sanctions regime, ensure that people receive personalised employment support and invest in skills and training to create the decent jobs that people need.”

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