Monday, 14 May 2007

Damning Report Questions Gordon Brown's Welfare Reforms

Mr Brown claims to have slashed youth unemployment and transformed life for the poor. However, according to a damning report that questions Gordon Brown's welfare reforms, youth unemployment is sharply higher than when Labour came to power. Despite Labour spending almost £2 billion on the New Deal, the number of people aged 18-24 out of work has risen by 70,000 to 505,000 since its launch in 1998.

Last week the National Association of Head Teachers said that schools were producing an "army of the unemployable" as tens of thousands of teenagers quit education at 16 with no qualifications. This was emphasized by the Bow Group, a Conservative-affiliated think tank, which tracked secondary school pupils over three years and found thousands had gone missing from school rolls.

Frank Field, the former welfare minister, says that the New Deal has been "woeful". He continued, "The results show that even if the money was available, which it isn't, more of the same won't work and will be a betrayal of young unemployed people. As part of the Labour leadership contest it is important for the Chancellor, and the candidates for the deputy leadership, to tell the electorate how best to move the 505,000 unemployed young people into work, as the New Deal is failing to do so."

Mr Field backs up the a criticism of the Tories that many of the young people helped into employment by the New Deal would have found a job anyway "Moreover, the number and proportion of young people finding work as a result of their New Deal has collapsed from 51 per cent in 1998 to 34 per cent in 2005," he adds. "Youth unemployment is higher than when Labour was elected in 1997, and rising.

The figures are in sharp contrast to the claim by Jim Murphy, the employment and welfare minister, who said in an article that "youth employment has been virtually abolished". .

This does not bode well for Brown as he attempts to rebuild public trust. As I said before, a package disguised in different wrapping is still the same package. It is just a little more attractive until you open it. With these latest developments it appears Brown is still very much subscribed to Blair's philosophy of political spin, despite recent attempts to distance himself.

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