The Shadow Chancellor plans to table a motion to levy a new £2 billion tax on bankers’ bonuses in order to fund back-to-work schemes for young people and those living in unemployment black spots.
Labour’s Ed Balls is currently try to secure the backing of Liberal Democrat and Tory backbenchers to support an amendment to the coalition government’s Finance Bill before a vote on the Commons is held on the proposed legislation later this month.
Balls’ suggested tax on bankers’ bonuses is intended to generate £1.2 billion for a house-building scheme to provide low-cost homes, creating an estimated 20,000 new jobs in the process.
Some £600 million in payments would be made to employers to help them take on 90,000 more under-25s, with some £60 million of that being earmarked to boost the number of apprenticeship places. A further £200 million would be made available to employers to help create jobs in unemployment black spots around the country.
Writing in the News of the World yesterday, the Shadow Chancellor explained his rationale: “Millions of us watched some exceptionally talented young people in the final of Britain’s Got Talent. They’ve worked hard – but they also got the chance to shine. But with one in five young people now looking for work – that’s almost one million – ‘Britain’s Lost Talent’ looks a better label for where our country could be headed.”
He said that April’s fall in youth unemployment was “welcome” but questioned whether the trend would continue.
“We need to act now to stop another lost generation of young people – like in the 1980s when youth unemployment rose for four years after the recession was over,” Balls continued. “That’s why we need another fair tax on bank bonuses to get people off the dole and into work. It’s the best way to get the deficit down – and stop Britain’s talent going to waste.”
Employment Minister Chris Grayling retorted that the government was intent on dealing with the “huge challenge of youth unemployment, which has been rising sharply even in the years when the economy was doing well”.
It was launching its Work Programme next week and planned to secure work experience places for 150,000 young people over the next two years. “What we don’t need is the old, failed ideas over again,” Grayling said.