Conservative Party Conference: Get Britain Working plans outlined

The Conservatives have outlined their ‘Get Britain Working’ scheme, which will replace the government’s flagship Flexible New Deal programme.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, a five-strong team of shadow ministers, including shadow chancellor George Osborne and shadow skills minister David Willetts, outlined how a Tory government would tackle rising unemployment, skills and other barriers to businesses during the recession.


One of the key proposals for the Tories’ new scheme is that the young unemployed would be given tailored personalised help after six months without a job, rather than having to wait until they had been jobless for 12 months, as they would under Labour’s Flexible New Deal.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said: “We must intervene earlier. We will refer young people to welfare-to-work advisers after six months. For those people that need the most help, we will refer them to providers immediately, regardless of their age.”

Skills academies

A Conservative government would also seek to create a new network of academies supported by businesses and industry experts. Three academies would be launched initially – a services academy supported by Travelodge and Tesco, an IT academy supported by Microsoft, and a young entrepreneurial academy supported by the Bright Ideas Trust.

A new ‘Work Pairing’ programme – following the model of the Working Right scheme launched in Scotland – would also be established. Personnel Today revealed last month that Willetts, shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, was considering extending the Working Rite scheme on a national scale.

The scheme would look to match 100,000 teenagers with small traders who could offer them paid work experience and mentoring for a six-month period.


Willetts also announced plans to create 300,000 additional apprenticeship and training places over two years, with the expansion of the number of opportunities created through the Young Apprenticeship scheme from the current 10,000 to 30,000 places.

He said the Tories would “cut the red tape on employers”, and that this scheme would be “paid for by refocusing the government’s ineffective Train to Gain budgets”.

He also announced 10,000 more fully funded university places, which he said must include engineering opportunities.

Tax breaks for small businesses

New businesses will pay no tax on the first 10 workers they hire during the first two years of a Conservative government.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne outlined brief plans about the tax break, which could generate 60,000 new jobs by 2012, in his initial speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today. His main speech, tomorrow, will give more details of how the tax break would be funded.

Osborne said he would abolish Employer National Insurance contributions for the first 10 employees hired in the first year by new firms, costing £250m.

Employers currently pay tax at 12.8% on the salaries of their employees.

Osborne said the Tories’ new welfare-to-work programme would cost £600m, part-funded by switching 500,000 people from incapacity benefits to Jobseekers’ Allowance, saving £25 per person per week, and taking money from the Train to Gain budget.

David Cameron’s speech

Personnel Today will be covering David Cameron’s speech to the conference live on Thursday at 2pm, with the help of three leading employment panelists from the EEF, Work Foundation and Institute of Employment Studies. Make sure you log onto on Thursday to see the latest employment news being reported as it happens, with expert commentary on what this means for HR professionals. 

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