The past few months have been tough for people and tough for business. The effects of the recession have been felt right across the globe, and we have not come out the other side yet.
But we have started to see the number of people losing their jobs each month slow down; the government has helped more than 250,000 people into work, and it remains the case that 70% of people stop claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance within six months. But I know that just one job lost can be a serious blow for individuals, families and communities. That is why the government has taken swift and decisive action to support people and businesses through this recession.
the government has quadrupled funding to help people facing redundancy, so if the worst happens, support is available. JobcentrePlus can move swiftly to help employers and their employees before a single job is lost. This is real, practical help, supporting people to write CVs, access pre-redundancy training and find new jobs. In some cases, thanks to this support, people have managed to avoid spending a single day without employment.
In addition, Business Link offers advice and guidance for firms who are having difficulties. The government has funded a number of schemes to support employers through this tough time, including allowing extra time to pay tax bills, encouraging rapid payment of invoices, and freeing up credit for small and medium-sized businesses.
Recession can make business cautious, and orders and recruitment may be put on hold while employers wait to see what will happen to the economy and how it will affect their industry. But this can become self-defeating, freezing trade and making recovery slower. So, we have also invested heavily in encouraging firms to recruit. Employers can access a free, personalised recruitment service through JobcentrePlus, as well as a plethora of support, including organising pre-employment training in growth sectors such as care and hospitality, work trials, cash subsidies, and training grants.
More than 40,000 employers have signed up to Local Employment Partnerships (LEPs), which provide a tailored service, sifting applications and providing training, and helping employers find the best new staff for their business. This approach works so well we have already passed our initial target of 250,000 jobs created and are now aiming to get a further 500,000 people into jobs through LEPs by the end of next year.
The government will continue to work hard to support people and businesses through the recession, but we also have to move on from simply responding to the recession to looking forward and thinking about recovery. This is not just an issue for government; there is no single policy, no amount of funding that can create the kind of sustainable economic recovery that we need. For the UK to remain a world economic power, for the whole nation to come out of recession stronger and more prosperous than before, we have to take a holistic approach and work together so we can all benefit from the upturn.
Government is planning for the future – the New Industry, New Jobs document, published in April, identified where we see new, high-value industries developing. Our vision is that when the world looks for expertise in green technology and the latest developments in digital communications, it looks to the UK. And when the world needs innovation and forward thinking, the UK tops every list.
Our approach is simple; invest in the skills of the future so we have the right people at the right time for the right jobs. Campaigns such as Backing Young Britain and the Future Jobs Fund recognise the importance of ensuring young people have a stake in this future too – harnessing their skills and enthusiasm and developing a knowledge base for the future.
Times are still tough for many businesses, but I can promise that the government will continue to invest and support employers through the recession. We will continue to invest in improving skills because we believe that unemployment is never a price worth paying and that investing in the UK is the right thing to do.
Jim Knight, employment and welfare reform minister