Spending Review: Rishi Sunak vows £2.9bn to help covid generation get jobs

25 November 2020, 06:50 | Updated: 25 November 2020, 07:55

Rishi Sunak will announce the spending plans for the year ahead later today
Rishi Sunak will announce the spending plans for the year ahead later today. Picture: HM Treasury

By Ewan Somerville

Rishi Sunak is promising a multi-billion pound package to help hundreds of thousands of people made jobless by the coronavirus crisis back into work.

Ahead of his first spending review on Wednesday, the chancellor said his “number one priority” was to protect jobs and livelihoods in the wake of the economic havoc wreaked by the pandemic.

His statement will include £2.9 billion over three years for a new "restart" scheme designed to help more than a million unemployed people find jobs.

Under the programme, the Treasury said people who have been out of work for more than 12 months will be provided with regular intensive support tailored to their circumstances.

Read more: What to expect from chancellor's UK Covid recovery plan tomorrow

Rishi Sunak is pledging a boost for the unemployed
Rishi Sunak is pledging a boost for the unemployed. Picture: PA

There will be a further £1.4 billion of funding to boost capacity at Job Centre Plus to provide additional assistance to those looking for work.

It comes as business leaders warn Boris Johnson's tough new tier system for England after the national lockdown will be a "hammer blow" for many industries, especially hospitality, theatres and small businesses.

Pubs, bars and restaurants are forced to shut except takeaways and deliveries in Tier 3. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), warned: “The additional restrictions will destroy our sector if they go ahead as proposed."

Mr Sunak will also confirm funding for the next stage of his "plan for jobs" – including £1.6 billion for the kickstart programme, which the Treasury said would create up to 250,000 state-subsidised jobs for young people.

The scheme, first launched in August, offering employers £2,000 for every new apprentice they take on, is to be extended until the end of March.

There will also be a £375 million skills package, including £138 million of new funding to deliver Boris Johnson’s "lifetime skills guarantee".

Speaking ahead of his statement in the Commons, Mr Sunak said: “My number one priority is to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK.

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“This Spending Review will ensure hundreds of thousands of jobs are supported and protected in the acute phase of this crisis and beyond with a multibillion package of investment to ensure that no-one is left without hope or opportunity.”

CBI policy director Matthew Fell said the Chancellor was right to focus on job creation as the economy looked to recover in 2021.

“Covid-19 has swept away many job opportunities, for young people in particular,” he said.

“The scarring effects of long-term unemployment are all too real, so the sooner more people can get back into work the better.”