Even though unemployment policy is likely to play a significant role in the forthcoming general election, it appears that none of the major parties have convinced voters that they have the answer.
According to a survey undertaken among 4,000 voters and commissioned by online job board TipTopjob.com, a huge 69% of jobseekers said that their decision on polling day would be influenced by the action that the leading political parties proposed to take.
But three quarters indicated that they were unhappy with Labour’s current efforts, while 68% were simply unaware of what the others intended to do to tackle the problem.
Mike Dauncey, head of Tiptojob.com, said: “It is interesting to find that the majority of British jobseekers will vote depending on the employment policy of major parties. The stone -old fact remains that jobseekers now represent a significant proportion of eligible voters, so either the parties acknowledge and address these people or inevitably suffer the consequences.”
According to figures from the Office of National Statistics released last week, UK unemployment has now broken through the 2.5 million mark for the first time since the Labour government came to power.
The number of people out of work is at its highest since the last three months of 1994, with the jobless rate currently at 8% – its most elevated since 1996. The latter figure increased by 43,000 in the three months to February.
As to what the three major parties are proposing to do about the situation, a table compiled by the Institute of Payroll Professionals indicated that Labour will guarantee a job to everyone who is unemployed for two years. It will likewise ensure a position or training place for young people who are out of work for six months – with cuts to their benefits if they refuse to take such offers up. The party also says it will introduce a new £40-per-week ‘Better Off in Work’ guarantee.
The Conservatives, on the other hand, claim they will introduce a single back-to-work programme for every unemployed person. Young people will be referred to the scheme after being out of work for six months rather than the current 12 months laid out in Labour’s Flexible New Deal. The party also says it will fund 200,000 apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship places as well as 100,000 work pairings.
The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have promised to create a work placement initiative with up to 800,000 places that would pay young people £55 per week for up to three months. They have likewise proposed fully meeting the upfront costs, currently paid by employers, involved in putting adults through apprenticeship schemes.