WHILE firms and businesses are closing down as furlough ends and millions of workers are being thrown out of work, the Tories launched their £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, which they claim will create thousands of new jobs across the country for youth aged between 16 to 24.
Young workers have been the hardest hit by mass unemployment, in the first two months of lockdown the number of under 24-year-olds claiming Universal Credit went up by 250,000 in March to almost 538,000 in July.
Sunak’s answer to this mass youth unemployment was to come up with the job ‘Kickstart’ scheme, under which the government will fund six months job placement for 350,000 youth under 24.
The government will pay 100% of the minimum wage for every young person employed but only for 25 hours a week – the employers are being asked to ‘top-up’ this minimum or pay for any extra hours over 25.
Far from being a ‘solution’ to mass youth unemployment, Sunak’s scheme is nothing more than an attempt to enrol young people in a mass cheap labour scheme.
It offers to industry and companies on the brink of collapse with the end of furlough, the prospect of employing youth for 6 months for free with the added bonus of using this free labour to undermine the jobs and wages of workers already employed.
Announcing the start of the scheme, Sunak proclaimed: ‘This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.’
This is not the first time a government faced with a massive economic crisis and the threat of an uprising by unemployed youth has resorted to subsidising companies to encourage them to take on young people.
In 2009, faced with a dramatic surge in unemployment resulting from the banking crash in 2008, the then Labour government of Gordon Brown introduced a ‘Future Jobs Fund’ which paid employers up to £6,500 for each job they created that lasted at least 6 months.
This scheme was abruptly scrapped by the new Tory government elected in 2010 on the grounds that it wasn’t economically ‘viable’.
On the day that Sunak urged firms to sign up for Kickstart, the Federation of Small Businesses lobby group was already warning that it was inadequate and that more government action was needed to prevent a ‘lost generation’ of young people.
What the bosses are really saying is that the entire scheme is a flop before it even starts. It doesn’t provide what they really want, which is an unending supply of cheap labour subsidised by the state. An army of young workers to be used as a scab labour force against the organised working class.
The Tories have borrowed over £15 billion already this year and this is expected to more than double by March 2021 in order to keep British capitalism from total collapse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It certainly rules out any extension to the £2 billion promised for the cheap labour Kickstart Scheme, despite all the pleas from the Labour Party to extend it.
In fact capitalism has only one option if it is to survive, and that is to inflict this massive debt on the backs of workers and youth through mass unemployment and the most savage austerity cuts to every public service.
All the cynical words about preventing a ‘lost generation’ cannot mask the real fear of the Tories that the working class and young people are refusing to pay the price for the capitalist crisis.
Young people will unite with workers against the Tories and lead the fight to build a new revolutionary leadership that will organise a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and build a socialist society.
Only socialist revolution can provide a future for youth and workers. We call on every worker and young person to join the WRP and build the leadership required to take the working class to power.