Stephen Timms joined Ed Balls MP, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Workplace Newham today to mark the launch of Labour’s compulsory Jobs Guarantee for long-term unemployed adults.
Mr Timms along with the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, welcomed Mr Balls to Workplace Newham – a recruitment centre committed to helping employers find local people to work for them. Mr Timms praised the“excellent” free service provided by Workplace to Newham residents, which he told Mr Balls was “making a difference to local people at a difficult time”. Mr Timms and Mr Balls met local job seekers and discussed issues of unemployment with the staff at the centre. Mr Balls, who has criticised the Tory-led coalition for being “out of touch” and using “divisive, nasty and misleading smears” when it comes to their attempts to reform welfare, also launched the Labour party’s Jobs Guarantee policy.
Labour’s policy of a compulsory Jobs Guarantee for the long-term unemployed calls for a One Nation approach to welfare reform that is tough but fair and which does not divide the country. Under the guarantee the government will ensure there is a job for every adult who is long-term unemployed and people out of work will be obliged to take up those jobs or face losing benefits.
Initially the guarantee would be for adults who are out of work for 24 months or more, but Labour would seek to reduce this to 18 or 12 months over time.
There are currently 129,400 adults over the age of 25 who have been out of work for 24 months or more – a rise of 88 percent since the same month last year and a rise of 146 per cent in the last two years.
The £1 billion costs can be funded by limiting tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 to 20 per cent, the same level as people on basic rate income tax.
Speaking after the event Mr Timms – Labour’s employment spokesperson and the architect of the policy – said: “Britain needs real welfare reform that is firm but fair. We need those who can work to be in a job, whilst supporting those who cannot. The Tory led-coalition is cutting tax credits from working families whilst giving a tax break to the country’s richest.
Labour’s Jobs Guarantee is a One Nation policy. It will bring the welfare bill down by getting people back into work. It balances out rights and responsibilities. It is a policy with a vision to see everyone back in work.”