Employment “boot camps” part of welfare reform for under-25s

17 Aug 15

The government is to implement major reforms to unemployment support for under-25s from April 2017, with young people set to lose benefits if they turn down job offers, apprenticeships or training.

The wide-ranging proposals were set out today by Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock, who will lead a cross-government taskforce to implement the changes. The plans also include the creation of “boot camps” where young people who are out of work will receive three weeks intensive assistance to prepare them for the job market.

Hancock, who serves as paymaster general in the Cabinet Office, said the government remains determined to tackle “the welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities”.

Currently around 85% of the UK population aged 16 to 24 are either in work or full-time education, but Hancock said there is more to do to ensure that all young people can achieve their potential.

He added: “By working across government to make sure that every young person is in work or training, by opening up three million more apprenticeships, expanding traineeships, and making sure that a life on benefits is simply not an option, we want to end rolling welfare dependency for good, so welfare dependency is no longer passed down the generations.

“We are absolutely committed to ending long-term youth unemployment and building a country for workers.”

The boot camp or “intensive activity programme” is expected to provide coaching on topics such as completing job applications and interview techniques, as well as an extensive job search, according to the Cabinet Office.

In addition to making young people take on work or an apprenticeship, traineeship or unpaid work experience in order to keep their benefits, those aged under 21 will no longer receive Housing Benefit. This forms part of the government’s drive to make £12bn in welfare savings.

Responding to the announcement, Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary Stephen Timms highlighted that young people are three times more likely to be out of work than the overall population.

“We urgently need more and better training to skill young people up, but the government needs to do far more to make sure there are jobs and apprenticeships at the end of it, so that these young people can build a future.”

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