One year ago the Government launched the 'Plan For Jobs' – a comprehensive and ambitious plan to help people back into work, earn more and gain the right skills so they can compete for the future jobs of tomorrow.
I am pleased that it is clear our plan is working, with unemployment much lower than previously forecast and lower than in other countries, job vacancy levels higher than last year, employment growing, and household incomes protected.
The economic damage wrought by the pandemic has caused the worst recession in this country for 300 years. In response, the government has provided over £400 billion of support to protect jobs and businesses through employment support, cash grants for businesses, loans, tax deferrals and tax cuts.
It is clear that our Plan for Jobs is working...
- Peak unemployment is now forecast to be two million fewer than previously feared. The latest OBR forecast for peak unemployment is now at 6 per cent rather than the previously expected 12 per cent – that means two million fewer people out of a job than previously feared. And the unemployment rate in the UK is lower than the US, Canada, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.
- People are rapidly coming off furlough. As the roadmap has progressed and the economy is beginning to unlock, we have seen furlough numbers decline from a peak of 11 million last year, to 5.5 million earlier this year, and to around 2 million at the end of June – outperforming expectations that 2 million people would still be on furlough at the end of September.
Our Plan For Jobs actively creates jobs, helps people get jobs, and helps them get the skills they need...
- Kickstart. We know that young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which is why we have invested £2 billion in our Kickstart scheme to fully fund and create 250,000 jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. So far, over 40,000 young people have started a Kickstart job. Over the past month, between 2,000-2,500 young people have started a job each week.
- Restart. To tackle those specifically at risk of long-term unemployment, we launched the £2.6 billion Restart scheme to help 1.4 million long-term unemployed people on Universal Credit. The three-year long scheme will offer up to 12 months of intensive, tailored employment support to increase the prospects of finding a job. Private providers will be required to deliver support through a ‘payment by results’ model, so they are incentivised to help as many people as possible into work. Participants of the similar Work Programme (2011-19) spent over two months fewer days on benefits than those who didn’t enter the scheme.
- Investing in the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS). We have invested over £200 million into the JETS scheme for those unemployed for over three months. Applicants will be supported with CV writing, interview skills, and job search advice, as well as receiving individual, tailored support. To date, this has already helped support over 125,000 jobseekers.
- More skills for school leavers. We are giving young people who have just left school the skills they need to find work in high-value sectors, such as engineering, construction and social care. This will help 18 and 19-year-olds take high value courses at Levels 2 and 3 where work opportunities are unavailable.
- Pioneering Lifetime Skills Guarantee. For the first time, any adult without a Level 3 qualification will be fully funded by the government to access free L3 courses, worth £,3,500 each. There are 11 million adults without L3 qualifications. L3 increases the chance of getting a job and boosts earnings by 9 per cent.
Our signature national interventions have made an impact to keep people in work and increase wages...
- Furlough. Furlough is in place until the end of September – that’s 18 months of continuous support.
- Paul Dales, Chief UK economist at Capital Economics, recently told the BBC that the figures showed the labour market was ‘starting to turn in a good way after quite a painful year. It is pretty much all down to the furlough scheme. That has been a huge success and quite frankly one of the best government policies I think that the modern economy has ever seen… As such, the furlough will probably go down in history as the scheme that averted a bloodbath in the labour market’.
- Increasing the National Living Wage. From April, the NLW rose by 2.2 per cent to £8.91 an hour, worth £345 to a full-time worker. We also expanded the NLW to those over the age of 23 (previously 25).
And this comes on top of our other extensive support for business, all of which helps protect jobs…
- VAT cut extension. To protect the 150,000 hospitality and tourism businesses which employ around 2.4 million jobs, we extended the 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT for a further six months until September and a return to the full rate will not happen until next Spring. That means a tax cut of over £7 billion.
- Generous Restart cash grants. Hospitality and leisure businesses – including personal care, hairdressers and gyms – received generous Restart grants of up to £18,000 from April to see them through to re-opening. This takes our total cash grant support throughout the pandemic to £25 billion for businesses.
- Business rates holiday. Last year, we provided an unprecedented 100 per cent business rates holiday for all eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This year eligible businesses will see a 75 per cent discount on their bills – that means, across last year and this, a tax cut worth £16 billion.
- Loans and tax deferrals. Our various loan schemes have provided £70 billion of support to 1.5 million companies. For Bounce Back Loans coming to an end, businesses are able to access our Pay As You Grow scheme, which allows them to defer repayments over a longer period – up to 10 years – and receive six-month payment holidays.