New Deal to get the chop if Hague comes to power

The New Deal would be replaced by a US-style work scheme under a Conservative government.

The Tory mini-manifesto unveiled last week confirms the party’s commitment to scrapping the New Deal and proposes a “Britain Works” initiative as the alternative.

The Conservatives say they would focus on getting people into jobs rather than teaching them skills.

The state would act as an agency, placing individuals with companies and taking responsibility for personnel problems.

Shadow social security secretary, Dave Willetts, told Personnel Today, “We aim to get people into some work, however basic. The employer and employee can invest in skills later.”

Employers would no longer receive a government subsidy for taking on the long-term unemployed. “Wage subsidies don’t work. It signals that there is a problem with the employees,” Willetts said.

The scheme is based on America Works, which Willetts saw in action during a trip to the US.

A second manifesto pledge was to force companies to take out industrial injuries insurance. The insurance would replace Industrial Injuries Benefit paid to sick staff by the state.

The Conservatives say that firms with low accident rates are effectively subsidising high-risk companies.

Savings made from the withdrawal of IIB would be ploughed into reducing business tax, Willetts said.

The Liberal Democrats also unveiled their manifesto this week as the party conference season approaches. The Lib Dems promised to guarantee decent standards for workers by beefing up the health and safety regime.

There would be new anti-discrimination laws enshrined in an equality act and compulsory retirement ages would be introduced.

The qualification age for the National Minimum Wage would be reduced from 21 to 16.

By Kristina Cooper

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