Ed Miliband: Young jobless must train or lose benefits

19 June 2014

The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband has announced that under a Labour Government, young unemployed people who refuse to take training courses to gain key skills could lose benefits as part of a series of measures aimed at “making work pay”.

The party argue that the current system discourages young people from getting the skills they need, thus the plan will see 18-21 year olds only being eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if they already have the skills to secure a “decent job.” Entitlement to adult out-of-work benefits for 18-to-21 year olds who are not in training or further education will end unless that is the case.

Exceptions will also include those with very young children or disabilities which prevent them preparing for work.

Young people from low income families will be able to claim a “youth allowance” if they agree to undertake vocational training of AS-level or equivalent. At the moment, they are prevented by benefit rules from training while looking for work. This is expected to be paid at the same £57 level currently given to under-25s on Jobseeker’s Allowance, but it will be means-tested so those with a family income of more than £42,000 a year will not be entitled to the new allowance. The policy is expected to affect about 100,000 young people.

Other changes will see higher rates of Jobseekers’ Allowance for people who have been in work for five years: from £72 to £100 a week.

The Conservatives claimed the plans were “just a recipe for more spending on welfare, more borrowing – and more taxes to pay for it”, whilst Mr Miliband argued that the changes will come at no extra cost to the taxpayer and that:
          “We must reshape our social security system so that it does everything it can to get people into decent jobs and the world of work, not a life on benefits. And yet the perversity of the system means that the one thing we most discourage those young people from doing is getting the skills they need for a decent career.”