Plan to pull 500,000 from dole queue

Author: By Andrew Grice

Yvette Cooper, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will treble to 750,000 the number of jobless people who will be helped back into the labour market through tailored personal support. The £18m scheme will be announced at the Labour conference.

Some 26,000 employers have agreed to give people struggling to find jobs a chance to show what they can do in week or two-week work trials arranged by Jobcentre Plus offices. The employers range from John Lewis, B&Q and Royal Bank of Scotland to hundreds of small firms.

In the run-up to the election, ministers will warn that unemployment would soar under a Tory Government, while Labour’s £5bn package to help the jobless would bring it down below the 2.5 million jobless assumed in the Treasury’s plans for the end of 2010.

In her speech to the Labour conference today, Ms Cooper will accuse the Tories of preaching a “counsel of despair” and of talking about “broken Britain” and an “age of austerity” to give them an excuse to roll back the state. Ms Cooper told The Independent yesterday that by spending money now ? rather than cutting spending as the Tories would do ? Labour would reduce the deficit in the public finances “further and faster”.

She said: “Each 100,000 [people] off the claimant count saves £700,000 in taxes and benefits.”

The local partnerships with employers would mean that the jobless would not be not “written off” as they were in the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s. “Never again should we lose a generation to unemployment,” she said.

“The faster you can get people into work, the more you can do to keep overall unemployment down. It is a way of giving people a chance.

“Companies can be put off if someone’s CV says they have been out of work. If a Jobcentre feels that someone can do a job, it will ask employers to give them a try. The evidence shows it works, and employers like it because it helps them with their recruitment. We’ve already helped 250,000 people into work, a year ahead of our target. We will now expand the scheme to cover an extra 500,000 people.”

Originally, the scheme was designed for people who had been out of work for six months. The expanded version will also cover those who have been unemployed for shorter periods.

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