From education to employment

The Chancellor’s Budget should have been more than the sum of its ports

Sam Windett

With young people most likely to be furloughed or made redundant since the start of the pandemic, the package announced in last week’s Budget didn’t deliver the opportunities that young people so vitally need.

There was hope – in his pre-Budget video on social media, the Chancellor spoke about the impact on young people being “one of the many tragedies of this whole crisis”, and even in his speech he made clear that he understands the need to do more “for those in low paid and less secure work.”

The Budget focused on cushioning the blow for businesses in the short and medium term. Alongside many necessary investments in the business support which is needed to restart the economy, we should have seen a corresponding investment in people, starting with the young people who have been unemployed for over six months.

In July, the Prime Minister’s promised an ‘Opportunity Guarantee’ for young people, where every young person would be offered the chance of an apprenticeship or work placement. The Budget brought welcome investment in measures like traineeships and apprenticeships, but the numbers and the investment don’t add up to an Opportunity Guarantee for all young people. Even when you factor in the pre-existing investment in the Kickstart Scheme, there just aren’t enough opportunities available.

And not only are there not enough places, but the places that are available are running out before they’ve properly begun. The Kickstart Scheme, with its funding for 250,000 work placements, is scheduled to close to applications in December, just three months after the scheduled end of furlough. The Chancellor has repeatedly spoken of his wish for the next generation to be remembered as the ‘Kickstart Generation’ – building this generation in three months is a tall order.

No young person should spend more than six months out of education, employment or training – the evidence for the scarring effects of long term unemployment are well established. To prevent this from becoming a reality for thousands of young people, we need further economic announcements in the year that invest in their futures, as the shape of the economic recovery becomes clearer. Failure to act will see a ‘Kickstart Generation’ remembered as one that was cut short before it reached its potential.

Sam Windett, Director of Policy at Impetus

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