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Invest £5 billion over next four years in employment support to tackle long-term unemployment

Stephen Evans
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@LearnWorkUK project that long-term unemployment, could rise fivefold next year to 1.6 million. These would be the highest levels since the early 1990s

The new report from the leading employment and skills thinktank Learning and Work Institute predicts that Young people, those aged over 50 and different parts of the country are likely to be hardest hit and calls for £5 billion plan to tackle long-term unemployment over the next four years

The government has been called on to urgently invest in back-to-work support to tackle the stark employment crisis caused by the impact of coronavirus. 

Learning and Work Institute has projected that long-term unemployment, the numbers out of work for 12 months or more, could rise fivefold next year to as high as 1.6 million. These would be the highest levels since the early 1990s. Young people, those aged over 50 and different parts of the country are likely to be hardest hit. 

The call for action comes ahead of new economic forecasts later this week from the Office for Budget Responsibility, expected to show the stark impacts of the coronavirus crisis, and the spending review which will set out government plans for spending over the next 12 months. 

Long-term unemployment is particularly damaging to people, communities and the economy. The longer someone is out of work, the less likely they are to find a new job. Long-term unemployment can also lead to health problems and ongoing damage to people’s incomes and career prospects. 

The Chancellor has suggested he is ‘actively looking’ at the options for putting a version of the Work Programme, introduced after the last recession, in place. But the new research shows that, while the Work Programme delivered good results for some groups, it was less effective for others, such as those with health problems and disabilities. In part this is because it didn’t have a clear role for local government or effective skills support. 

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That’s why the report argues for support that:

  • Is open to all long-term unemployed people, including those who were furloughed, not just those claiming benefits
  • Sets clear minimum standards showing the support people can expect
  • Improves skills as well as looking for a job
  • Has a clear leadership role for local government, rather than being driven by central government

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said;

“Long-term unemployment is set to rise sharply, damaging livelihoods and communities. We need urgent action to help people find work.

“We should learn the lessons from previous programmes, by ensuring that employment support is locally tailored, and integrated effectively with support to retrain and build skills. 

“And while effective employment support is vital, it alone will not be sufficient. It must also be part of a wider plan to get the economy going again, restarting growth and supporting job creation.”

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