Labour calls for ‘jobs promise’ to prevent ‘lost generation’ to Covid

Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

Labour is calling for a “jobs promise” to guarantee young people education, training or employment to prevent a “lost generation” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

All 16 to 24-year-olds out of work or education for six months would be helped into employment or study under the party’s plan to tackle long-term unemployment.

The plan set out ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday would also guarantee that no-one is away from work or training involuntarily for more than 12 months.

And workers made redundant from the furlough scheme would be given instant access to job-seeking support without the need to claim social security.

Labour estimated that over a million people will become “long-term unemployed” across this year and 2022, with 660,000 young people out of work or education for six months or more.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “These figures show that without immediate action the Conservatives risk creating another lost generation, scarred by unemployment.

“Throughout this crisis we’ve seen the Chancellor determined to remove support as quickly as possible, despite the fact restrictions mean large parts of the economy are still closed. His actions have cost jobs and businesses.

“Successive Conservative governments have weakened Britain’s foundations and robbed too many people of the opportunity to achieve their potential. Going back to business as usual is not an option.”

Labour said the plan could be funded by simplifying and bringing forward £4.5 billion of spending on “failed“ Government programmes.

It comes as the party faces increasing pressure to set out its vision of a Government led by Sir Keir Starmer.