Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged Monday to spend an extra £500 million ($748.8 million) to stem rising unemployment caused by the financial crisis.
The government’s main aim is to get people who lose their jobs back to work before they become long-term unemployed and out of touch with working life. “We’re putting money into jobs, hundreds of millions of pounds, like today half a billion pounds,” Brown told GMTV before meeting industry leaders for a jobs summit to look at ways to ease the looming recession’s impact on employment.
Brown said the government was helping employers who took on new staff, helping young people with new apprenticeships and helping people to start their own businesses. “Every possible option we are looking at,” he said. The government is to give companies up to £2,500 ($3.743) for new recruits who have been unemployed for more than six months, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.
Unemployment in Britain rose to 1.864 million people in the three months to October, equal to six percent of the workforce and the highest rate since the three months to June 1999. Some commentators forecast it could rise as high as three million before the economy recovers.
Brown also told the industry chiefs the government would set out plans in the coming weeks for investment in ‘green’ jobs and the environment, technology and in infrastructure projects.
ELECTION BY MID-2010
A deep recession would severely harm any chance Brown has of winning the next general election, which he must call by mid-2010. Labor trails the Conservatives in opinion polls. Business leaders called for more measures to free up credit to help tackle the unemployment issue.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which is attending the summit, said it was looking for measures to get cash flowing to business again. The British Retail Consortium, also attending the summit, said it wants Brown to do more for its members, citing the example of variety store Woolworths, which went into administration with the loss of 27,000 jobs.
Brown said the government had looked very closely at what it could do to help Woolworths, but had concluded that: “Woolworths had a business model that wasn’t working. It couldn’t be saved.” (Reuters)