Rishi Sunak promises £500m funding to get people back to work amid looming winter crisis

4 October 2021, 00:14 | Updated: 4 October 2021, 00:23

Rishi Sunak will announce the new package on Monday
Rishi Sunak will announce the new package on Monday. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to promise more than £500 million in funding to get people back to work, in an attempt to stem the continuing turbulence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new funding will be used to help workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed over-50s back into work, with a "job finding support" scheme lasting until the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the "kickstart" scheme for young people will be extended to March 2022 and a £3,000 incentive for new apprentices will also be extended until the end of January.

However, the Chancellor has resisted expanding all of the support announced during the pandemic, with the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit falling away.

Mr Sunak will instead use his speech at the Tory conference on Monday to set out his vision of shaping the economy around "the forces of science, technology and imagination".

He is expected to pledge to "make the United Kingdom the most exciting place on the planet" through enhanced infrastructure, improved skills and scientific investment.

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'Do we want an economy dependent on a volume of low paid labour?'

Ahead of his speech, Mr Sunak said he was "ready to double-down" on his promise to "do whatever it takes" to recover from Covid.

He said the furlough scheme - which came to an end at the end of September - protected 11 million jobs and the UK was "experiencing one of the strongest and fastest recoveries of any major economy in the world".

"But the job is not done yet," Mr Sunak added. "I want to make sure our economy is fit for the future, and that means providing the support and skills people need to get into work and get on in life."

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However, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: "The Government's struggling plan for jobs has failed to hit its original targets; it is not creating the number of jobs needed and has failed to address the supply chain crisis Britain is experiencing."

"Giving himself an extended deadline will do nothing to compensate for the Chancellor's tax rises, cost of living crisis and cuts to Universal Credit which are set to hammer millions of working families."

Fresh warnings of hardship have also been issued over the rise of the energy price cap and price hikes in shops.

Household budgets will sustain a further blow in April 2022 when national insurance increases by 1.25 per cent to help fund the NHS and social care reforms.

Universal credit cut will damage worst off in society

It comes as labour shortages throughout the UK have led to supply chain issues across several industries.

Matthew Fell, the chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said: "Businesses will welcome the Chancellor's plan for jobs pivoting from furlough to economic recovery.

"With record vacancies and widespread labour shortages, this package's success will be measured by its ability to get people back into work.

"Businesses are committed to playing their full part in training and re-skilling the workforce of tomorrow as we move towards a new economy."

The funding will come from the education and the work and pensions departments, with further details to be set out in the upcoming spending review.

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