Greens and Corbyn attack 'boot camps' policy for unemployed youth

By staff writers
August 18, 2015

The Green Party has strongly criticised government plans to send unemployed young people on three-week “boot camps”.

Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn also condemned the plans, as Conservative ministers urged his rivals for the Labour leadership to back them.

The policy was announced yesterday by Conservative minister Matt Hancock, who heads David Cameron's “Earn or Learn Taskforce”. He suggested that young people who refuse to attend will lose their benefits.

But the Green Party accused the government of waging a “war on young people”.

Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said “This move and the rhetoric surrounding it are typical of the government’s approach to unemployment: placing the blame on ‘welfare culture’ and those affected rather than taking real action to tackle the root causes of youth unemployment.”

The Greens accused the government of attempting to reduce the unemployment figures in the short term rather than helping people to find meaningful work in the long term.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn accused the Conservatives of failing young people. He added, “As it takes away opportunities for young people to earn or learn, this government is blaming young people rather than addressing the real problems. It proposes more free labour from the young with fewer rights.”

Matt Hancock denied that the 'boot camps' are intended as a punishment. “We are penalising nobody because nobody who does the right thing and plays by the rules will lose their benefits”, he said.

Hancock argued that the scheme will help young people gain the skills to help them find jobs. Critics say that this is of little use if there are not enough jobs available.

“Today’s young people are struggling with high rents and low wages, many saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt as a result of their ever increasing tuition fees”, insisted Womack, “Rather than supporting them, the government is choosing to cut their benefits, exempt them from the so-called ‘national living wage’, and place greater and greater demands on those struggling to find work.”

The plans have also been criticised by the charity Barnado's, which said that young people need to feel supported, not punished.

Matt Hancock has written to all four candidates for the Labour Party leadership – Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall – to ask them to back the new policy.

[Ekk/1]

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