Speaking in his second Budget today, Darling said Government will be injecting an additional £2.6bn into helping the unemployed, including investing another £1.7bn into its Jobcentre Plus programme.
An additional £1.7bn will be pumped into the scheme to ensure adequate support is available to those “entitled” to it, and an additional investment of £260m in new money for training and subsidies to get people skilled in sectors that have strong demand, said Darling.
From January everyone under the age 25 who has been out of work for 12 months will be offered a job or a place in training. Those who work will receive a wage, those who train will receive additional money on top of the benefits, with a view of generating 250,000 jobs.
The Chancellor also announced extra investment for every 16 and 17 year old who wants to stay in education and training, with an extra £250m invested this year and £400 in 2010/2011.
He said this will enable an a additional 54,000 places in sixth form or colleges for student in the next academic year.
Statutory redundancy pay will also increase from £350 per week to £380.
However, National Skills Academy for Financial Services chief executive Sylvia Perrins says some of the Chancellor’s plans are “incredibly ambitious”.
She says: “To give everyone under 25 who have been out of work for 12 months a job or a place in training is incredibly ambitious. But, it recognises the government’s realisation that we can no longer sit on the fence where the future of UK plc is concerned.”
Speaking during this morning’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Prime Minster Gordon Brown said: “We will continue to do everything we can to help people into work and stay in their jobs.
“That is why we have extended tax credits, that is why we have taken action to have 35,000 more apprentices in our country, that is why this week we introduced a scheme to help people who are six months unemployed get back into work and that is why we are prepared to spend the money and invest it where it is necessary to do so.”
Comparing 1997 to now, Brown said the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in full-time education or employment sits at 4.7 million, up 800,000 on 1997, which recorded 3.9 million.