Record numbers of young are on benefits with 538,000 under-25s claiming universal credit in lockdown as Government launches £2billion scheme to get them into jobs
- ‘KickStart’ aims to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for ‘left behind’ youths
- Number of under-25s claiming Universal Credit risen by 250,000 in lockdown
- Increase means one in 13 of seven million Britons aged 16 to 24 claims benefits
A record-breaking 538,000 under-25s have claimed Universal Credit in lockdown as the Government today launched a £2billion scheme to get them into jobs.
The employment scheme, dubbed ‘KickStart’, is aimed as creating hundreds of thousands of roles for young Britons who have been ‘left-behind’.
Employers will be able to offer work placements to benefit claimants with the state covering 100 per cent of the resulting minimum wage, national insurance and pension payments.
The number of young people claiming Universal Credit has risen by 250,000 to 538,000 during the coronavirus lockdown, the Daily Telegraph reported.
This increase, which took place between March and July, means one in 13 of seven million Britons in the 16 to 24 demographic now claim the benefit.
The ‘KickStart’ scheme, which will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions, will initially be open until December 2021.
Dubbed ‘Kickstart’, the youth employment scheme is aimed at creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for the ‘left-behind’ under-25s. Pictured: Rishi Sunak
The Government will give £1,500 grants to help with support and training. Major employers including Tesco have signed up so far.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.
‘The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.’
Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added: ‘As we launch our £2 billion Kickstart programme, putting young people at the heart of our revival – we are urging businesses to get involved in this innovative scheme and take advantage of the enormous pool of potential out there.
‘Young people taking part will receive on-the-job training, skills development and mentoring, as we get them on that first rung of the jobs ladder and on their way to successful careers.’
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative party leader, last night warned under-25s could carry a ‘wage scar on their backs’ after having to claim benefits so young.
The scheme, which will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions, will initially be open until December 2021. Pictured: Therese Coffey
The introduction of the ‘KickStart’ scheme comes as Boris Johnson (pictured on Tuesday) claimed ‘huge numbers’ of employees had already returned to workplaces across the UK
He said: ‘They will get out of the habit of work. If a young person does not enter the world of work early, then it becomes very difficult for them to enter later on. Now is the time when you damage them or you help them.’
The introduction of the ‘KickStart’ scheme comes as Boris Johnson claimed ‘huge numbers’ of employees had already returned to workplaces across the UK.
The Prime Minister last week launched a major drive to persuade more Britons to return to work as remote employees were warned they could be more at risk of being sacked.
He yesterday told the Cabinet that ‘we know there will be more outbreaks’ but he is ‘absolutely confident’ the Government will be able to deal with them.
Mr Johnson claimed ‘huge numbers’ of people are now returning to offices and ‘quite right too’ amid fears that Professor Chris Whitty could quit over the Government’s push to persuade workers to ditch working from home.
The Prime Minister also appeared to acknowledge that his Government has been hit by a series of damaging U-turns in recent months.
He said: ‘In the last few months, we’ve been sailing into the teeth of a gale.
‘It is necessary to tack in response to the facts as they change, in response to the wind’s change, but we have been going steadily in the direction, in the course we set out, and not been blown off course.’
Mr Johnson met with his Cabinet in the grand Locarno Suite at the Foreign Office – chosen because it has more space than Number 10 so that ministers can socially distance.
The opulent setting will be used for the meetings for the foreseeable future after months of Mr Johnson having to speak to ministers via Zoom.