I welcome Labour’s radical reforms to welfare announced today.
Labour today launched IPPR’s Condition of Britain report, arguing that Labour’s path to building a more equal and successful country is through big reforms - not big spending. Labour will introduce welfare reforms which, without increasing government spending, will reward people who work hard, improve skills and make a contribution. They include:
- Ensuring young people get the support they need to improve skills so they get ready for the world of work - instead of moving in and out of low-paid jobs and benefits
- Giving greater recognition to contribution in the social security system
Young people who don’t have the skills they need to find a job should be training, rather than claiming benefits. So we will end entitlement to Job Seekers Allowance for young people aged 18-21, unless they have good qualifications or work experience. A new youth allowance will be there for those whose parents can’t support them through training, and we will make exceptions for those who genuinely can’t live at home.
Labour will also begin to restore the principle of contribution to the heart of the social security system. As a first step, we will introduce a higher rate of JSA to those who have contributed over years. This would be fully funded by extending the length of time people need to have worked to qualify.
The IPPR estimate that their approach would save £65m. Labour knows it won’t have money to spend but that doesn’t mean we can't make the big reforms needed.
I believe these reforms are long overdue. We need to create a welfare system that encourages young people to get the qualifications and training they need to succeed in the workplace. We also need a welfare system which rewards those who have worked hard, paid in and deserve extra support when out of work.
Labour is setting out a radical policy agenda for Government, understanding that we won’t have money to spend but that doesn’t stop us making the change we need.
Seven out of ten young people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance have skills below level three, A-level equivalent. Helping young people get the qualifications they need will help get some of the 240 young people unemployed in North West Leicestershire into work.
Only 10% of our social security system is linked to contribution. By linking unemployment benefits to previous contribution we can help those who’ve paid in over many years when times get touch.
I welcome these proposals. Labour is committed to creating a fairer Britain.