Cutting support to young people is the wrong message
Labour's proposed cuts to the welfare system will replace existing youth benefits. But at a time when youth unemployment is at an all-time high, young people should be being given more support, not less.
In a speech today, Ed Miliband set out Labour's first plans for cuts to the welfare system, replacing young people's entitlement to Job Seeker's Allowance with a requirement to undertake further training.
I understand that he is responding to demands from the electorate to reform the welfare system, and I support anything that gives young people the skills they need for work.
We need some joined up policy-making from welfare to skills to education.
However, targeting young people as a way of making savings seems to me completely the wrong way round, and the wrong message to send. At a time when youth unemployment is at an all-time high, young people should be being given more support, not less.
Skills training is vital of course. The urgent work that needs to be done is increasing the number of entry-level jobs and apprenticeships available.
Just as we see Government departments not joining up when it comes to setting policy around young people and work, the Opposition seems to be working in a similar way. The announcements today should not just be about welfare reform, but about the work Labour intend to do to create more opportunities for young people.
We are acting on this in our own way with our Building A Creative Nation campaign, which aims to create 6,500 jobs for young people in 1,000 days in the creative industries.
If future Governments want to back this approach, they need to be supporting employers, particularly small businesses, to create entry-level jobs. And we need some joined up policy-making from welfare to skills to education, supporting a young person as they progress from school to work.