Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a three-year £2.9bn ‘restart programme’ to help more than one million people unemployed for more than a year find work.
Today’s Spending Review settlement also includes £1.6bn in 2021/22 for the Kickstart scheme, which will provide more than 250,000 fully-funded new six-month job placements for under 25s who are claiming out-of-work benefits.
The Spending Review, which Mr Sunak said represented a ‘huge investment in jobs,’ came as new figures revealed the number of employees on payroll fell by 782,000 (2.7%) between March and October.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, the unemployment rate will average 4.4% across 2020, rising to 7.5% or 2.6m people at its peak in 2021.
According to its latest projections, the unemployment rate will then return to 4.4% by 2025, compared to a pre-crisis rate of 3.8% last year.
However, under a ‘downside scenario’ the unemployment rate could peak at a high of 11% at the beginning of 2022.
Mr Sunak said the Government’s ‘immediate priority’ was to ‘protect people’s livelihoods’ and it would continue to take ‘extraordinary measures to protect people’s jobs and incomes’ because ‘good work remains the most rewarding and sustainable path to prosperity’.
He said unemployment in the UK was still lower than in Italy, France, Spain, Canada and the United States.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the restart programme should ‘involve local actors who know their communities’ and ‘not be imposed from Whitehall’.