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PRIME MINISTER David Cameron set out “forced labour” plans yesterday that would see thousands of young people made to work for nothing just to get jobseeker’s allowance.
The Tory leader said his goal was to “abolish long-term unemployment.”
But critics warned that the plans would simply shift thousands of jobless 18 to 21-year-olds into unpaid work rather than deal with the roots of the problem.
Under the £20 million plans up to 50,000 people could be given an ultimatum of taking roles such as making meals for the elderly or cleaning up litter and graffiti or losing any state support, the Prime Minister said.
The scheme would be funded by grabbing cash from families receiving the most welfare.
“The safety net will always be there” for the deserving poor but if you “refuse to work we will not keep supporting you,” he threatened.
“We’re getting there,” claimed Mr Cameron.
“We need another five years to finish the job.”
The Tory proposals were ridiculed by Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady.
She accused Mr Cameron’s government of creating “an economy designed to work against” young people.
“The Prime Minister who gave us a zero-hours jobs boom is now promising zero-pay jobs for young people,” she said.
“Unemployed young people should be given a guaranteed paid job or proper training place, not forced into unpaid workfare.”
Commenting on Mr Cameron’s new proposals for jobseeker’s allowance, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “David Cameron seems intent on punishing young unemployed people when we need fair pay for a fair day’s work.”
And University and Colleges Union general secretary Sally Hunt accused Mr Cameron of “punishing young people rather than helping them.”
The plans “fundamentally fail” to tackle the reason why so many people are unable to find work or are not in education or training.
“Talk about a well-worn path from the school gate to jobcentre is as insulting as it is out of touch,” she said.
“What young people need is politicians who have a plan to help them, not subject them to scapegoating.
“We need to give our young people a commitment of proper guidance and stable, properly rewarded jobs or educational opportunities.”
Labour has pledged to introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee targeting the same problem.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said the Tories had “abandoned thousands of young people.”
Star comment: p8
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