UNEMPLOYED youth are to be conscripted into ‘boot camps’ or face being thrown off benefits and onto the streets, in a ‘vindictive’ new Tory scheme announced yesterday.
The scheme exclusively targets youth aged between 18 to 21. Youth within the first three weeks of claiming unemployment benefits will be dragooned into an Intensive Activity Programme (IAP). The programme, provocatively dubbed by the Tory government as ‘boot camp’, will last three weeks and include 71-hours of ‘intensive job search’.
Young Socialists National Secretary Joshua Ogunleye said: ‘This latest attack on youth by this Tory government must be met with immediate action. Young people are not slaves to be driven back to Victorian workhouses. We call on all youth to join in the lobby of the TUC conference on Sunday September 13 to demand the TUC call a general strike to bring this Tory government down. We cannot live under these conditions!’
The union representing JobCentre workers slammed the Tory scheme as ‘vindictive’. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘Using military language to describe support for young unemployed people is not only disrespectful, it betrays the vindictive nature of the government’s approach to social security. This is counter-productive as evidence shows a more punitive regime of strict conditions and sanctions does not help people find sustainable work.’
The slave labour scheme has its own ‘Earn or Learn Taskforce’. The taskforce, which includes Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, will implement measures including the requirement for young claimants to take a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or unpaid work experience or lose all of their benefits.
Chair Matt Hancock, the Paymaster General, said yesterday that the ‘Earn or Learn Taskforce’ will create a ‘no excuses’ culture to youth employment across government. Measures the Taskforce will implement will include:
• A new ‘boot camp’ to get claimants work-ready within 6 months.
• Young claimants must take a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or unpaid work experience or lose benefits.
• Under-21s will no longer receive housing support.
• Three million more Apprenticeships to be created by 2020 paid at £3.79 an hour.
Changes to youth benefits come into force in April 2017. The University and College Union (UCU) has also condemned the Tory plans for ‘youth boot camps’.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘This government is already hitting young people through cuts to further education colleges’ budgets, increased university fees and the abolition of grants. This latest idea is little more than another attack on the very people we should be striving to help.
‘What young people need is politicians who have a plan to help them, not subject them to scapegoating.’