Chancellor launches £2.9bn Restart scheme to help jobless
The Restart scheme will start with £400m of funding next year and will be particularly aimed at older workers.
Under the programme, the Treasury said people who have been out of work for more than 12 months will be provided with regular intensive support tailored to their circumstances.
In addition, the Treasury will provide a further £1.4bn to increase the capacity of Jobcentre Plus.
Sunak repeated his previous statements that the government could not protect every job. He revealed that UK unemployment is forecast to reach 7.5% next year, resulting in 2.6 million people being out of work.
The government expects this figure to recover to 4.4% by the end of 2024.
Sunak said that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, the economy had contracted by 11.3% this year, the largest fall in output for 300 years. As the restrictions are eased, the OBR expects the economy to start recovering growing by 5.5% next year, 6.6% in 2022, then 2.3%, 1.7% and 1.8% in the following years.
But even with growth returning, the UK’s economic output is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels until the fourth quarter of 2022.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said: “Restart announced today, must meet three key tests to be effective: it should help people who need it most, not cherry pick. It should be up and running as soon as possible – yet it appears only a fraction of Restart funding will be available next year. And Restart must involve local actors who know their communities, not be imposed from Whitehall.
“And of course job search support ultimately only works if sufficient new jobs actually exist. That’s why we needed ambitious action to boost our economy and to support our businesses.”
Matthew Fell, UK chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Covid-19 has swept away many job opportunities, for young people in particular.
“The chancellor has been tireless in his efforts to protect jobs throughout the crisis and, as the UK begins to eye a recovery in 2021, attention is rightly turning to how to create new jobs. The scarring effects of long-term unemployment are all too real, so the sooner more people can get back into work the better.”