The Work Foundation today urges a £23 billion package of measures to make the ‘budget for jobs’ a reality.
In a paper in advance of next week’s budget, it argues that ‘affordable fiscal activism’ is necessary to reduce the growing threat of mass unemployment. David Coats, associate director, policy at The Work Foundation, said: ‘Now, when unemployment is rising fast and many businesses are struggling, is absolutely not the time for the government to be thinking about cutting back. The Chancellor must have the courage to do the right thing for the economy and for jobs and implement a substantial stimulus package.
‘A very pessimistic debate is occurring in the UK about high levels of public borrowing, but rising deficits are a consequence of the economic slowdown, not high expenditure. Judged by international standards the level of public debt in the UK remains well below that of other leading nations. So far the measures taken to stimulate the UK economy look very modest alongside the scale of intervention elsewhere, while even the International Monetary Fund has made clear that the scale of the crisis demands decisive action. The case for a further fiscal boost is compelling.’
The Work Foundation proposes:
- A public works programme: investing in ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure projects which can enhance the level of growth – especially programmes ready to be rolled out immediately in housing, education and ‘green jobs’
- A short-time working scheme: helping keep people in work by enabling employers to reduce working hours and partially compensating workers through the benefits system for the fall in income
- High quality job search support and increased benefit levels: maintaining the quality of service offered by Job Centre Plus; pressing ahead with welfare reform (but revising the scale of ambition); and increasing the level of JobSeekers’ Allowance by at least £10 per week
- Creating more public sector employment: to help fill the gap left by declining private sector employment
- Specific action on youth unemployment: encouraging young people to continue in education and upgrade their skills, and expanding the range of further and higher education places where necessary
- A further targeted fiscal boost: though an increase in tax credits for low paid families, effectively putting extra money in the hands of those most likely to spend it.
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