The Green Party has accused the government of waging ‘war on young people’ after ministers unveiled plans to force unemployed young people to attend a three-week ‘boot camp.’ Amelia Womack, the Green Party’s Deputy Leader, has called the plans ‘damaging’ and called for the government to take a longer-term approach to youth unemployment. The scheme which is planned to start in a couple of years will put young people through what Tory ministers are describing as ‘their paces’ with a ‘no excuse culture’. The new regime for all those under 21 who would be entitled to claim Job Seekers Allowance, will mean they now have to attend the boot camp for three weeks or face losing their benefits. .
Commenting Ms Womack said: "This latest announcement is yet another outrageous step in what can only be described as the Conservatives’ war on young people. This move and the rhetoric surrounding it are typical of the government’s approach to unemployment: placing the blame on ‘welfare culture’ and those affected rather than taking real action to tackle the root causes of youth unemployment. Today’s young people are struggling with high rents and low wages, many saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt as a result of their ever increasing tuition fees - and rather than supporting them, the government is choosing to cut their benefits, exempt them from the so-called ‘national living wage,’ and place greater and greater demands on those struggling to find work.
Continuing Amelia Womack said: "The measures announced today are a damaging short-termist attempt to bring down unemployment figures by forcing young people into some kind of work or work programme as quickly as possible, rather than recognising the diversity of career paths and the importance of ensuring that young people choose one that is right for them. The government should be taking a much longer-term approach to unemployment: investing in job creation; providing apprenticeships and training to all those who want them; and ensuring that young people are not forced into destitution by the debt, benefit cuts and low wages that risk creating a lost generation."
The tone of the response from Acting Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Timms, was more supportive of the Government's proposal. While criticising the Tory government for their record on youth unemployment, Mr Timms didn't criticise the proposal at all saying the government needed more and better training programmes. Mr Timms said: "After five years of the Tories youth unemployment remains unacceptably high and young people are three times more likely to be out of work than the overall population. We urgently need more and better training to skill young people up, but the government needs to do far more to make sure there are jobs and apprenticeships at the end of it so that these young people can build a future."
Criticising the government's proposal SNP Fair Work and Employment spokesperson, Hannah Bardell said: "Whilst the Tories are happy to use the language of threats and intimidation on the young – often struggling to find work – they watch their pals rake in huge salaries. The Tories' cruel welfare cuts damage those on low incomes, the working poor and vulnerable people. They are happy to push more people into poverty whilst letting the super-rich flourish."
Turning her fire on Labour Hannah Bardell said: "Labour have completely abandoned any pretence of being a party of social justice and progress. By abstaining on the Tories welfare plans they shamefully supported George Osborne's £30 billion more austerity cuts. Only the SNP are providing principled opposition to the Tories at Westminster."