Treasury invests £500m in Plan for Jobs expansion

The Treasury announced yesterday that it was to support hundreds of thousands of people as part of a £500m expansion to the government’s Plan for Jobs scheme

As part of his speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Rishi Sunak ramped up his message that he is ‘ready to double-down’ on his promise to ‘do whatever it takes’ to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunak announced that the Plan for Jobs extension will specifically target workers leaving the furlough scheme and those who are unemployed over the age of 50.

The new package aims to ensure that older workers will receive ‘better information and guidance’ on later life planning which aims to help people make informed choices that will allow them to plan their career and remain in work.

The Government is also prioritising support for those coming off furlough through the job finding support (JFS) scheme as well as extending the job entry targeted support scheme (JETS) to September 2022.

This scheme provides online ‘intensive and tailored support’, one-to-one support for people unemployed for less than 3 months, including recruitment advice from a skilled adviser, support with CVs, and mock interviews.

Starting in April 2022, the Government also announced that it will enhance its support for those on universal credit by offering coaching support and advice to aid career progression as well as providing more Job Centre Plus specialists who will work with local employers to identify local opportunities for people to progress in work.

Measures included in the new package will include a four-month extension of the £3,000 incentive for employers to take on apprentices, there will also be an extension to the kickstart scheme which provides funding to create jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment – until the end of March.

The government is also extending its Youth Offer to 2025 and expanding eligibility to include 16- and 17-year olds in addition to 18-24-year-olds.

Commenting on the announcement Ed Hussey, director of people solutions at Menzies LLP said:‘This support package is welcome news for the many thousands of UK workers finding themselves out of work and without the support of the furlough scheme. The only question is, will it be enough to help them to find jobs, so they can, at last, get on with their lives?

‘Businesses can play their part in helping people back to work, at the same time as strengthening their skills base, by taking advantage of the Government’s decision to extend the Kickstart Scheme until March next year. This scheme is designed to benefit young people on Universal Credit and has been proving popular with both employers and workers.

‘The decision to extend the £3,000 incentive for businesses taking on a new apprentice to the end of January 2021 could also help to fill skills gaps. Employers can maximise their subsidies and support by using the KickStart Scheme as a trial period for new employees, the best of whom can then become an apprentice, and there is lots of free support available for companies to navigate the process and maximise their benefits.

‘The decision to extend the period of support is significant as it is clear that the pandemic is continuing to cause disruption for many sectors, at a time when households are being affected by rising costs. The measures announced are just for the short-term, however, and there is a risk that the economic cliff-edge facing many households has just been pushed a bit further away.’

The Chancellor will confirm the specific funding for each measure of the scheme at the spending review before the government department releases its Autumn Budget on 27 October 2021.

The shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, said: ‘The government’s struggling plan for jobs has failed to hit its original targets; it is not creating the number of jobs needed and has failed to address the supply chain crisis Britain is experiencing.

‘Giving himself an extended deadline will do nothing to compensate for the Chancellor’s tax rises, cost of living crisis, and cuts to Universal Credit which are set to hammer millions of working families.’

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