The Methodist Church in Britain has welcomed the Chancellor’s budget commitment today to provide work or training for under 25s who have been jobless for more than a year. It has also welcomed his green pledges.
In previous recessions, youth unemployment has posed a major challenge, as have the longer term social problems which flow from it.
Mike Seaton, director of the Methodist Church's Children and Youth Team, said: “It is vital to create opportunities that afford young people choice over their long-term prospects as well as fulfilling their personal aspirations."
He continued: “We look forward to seeing the detail of how this will be implemented and recognise that this could offer new and exciting opportunities not just for young people but for employers. Faith-based voluntary sector organisations, such as the Methodist Church, have much to offer and we would want to encourage and assist the Government in the development of this initiative.”
With the economy heading for a deeper recession than previously forecast, the Chancellor has today announced a number of measures designed to assist the most vulnerable in our society. As well as measures to help the under 25s, schemes to improve back to work services and Jobcentre Plus have also been welcomed by the Methodists.
The Get Fair Campaign, supported by a range of churches and Christian organisations, highlights the plight of the poorest people who did not see the benefit of the boom years and should be protected as far as possible from the recession.
The Trades Union Congress welcomed the initiatives but suggested the government was not helping the unemployed with the same determination it showed in saving the banks.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "It is does not bring the same boldness and vigour to getting the real economy right as the government showed in dealing with the banking collapse. The biggest drain on the public finances will be continuing mass unemployment and we needed a bigger and better-targeted stimulus."
Derek Simpson, General Secretary of the Unite union, said that the announcements on employment, together with tax changes and the car scrappage scheme, "puts Labour back on the side of working families". But he added: "Manufacturing workers need more support now because once those jobs go they will go for good."
Employers' groups were not especially impressed. A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said: "This 'budget for jobs' has done little to help under-pressure retailers keep people in work. Few share the chancellor's optimism that the economy will be growing again by the end of this year."
Today also marked a ground-breaking first Carbon Budget which commits the UK to legally binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions. However, initial responses to the detail from Christian Aid, the World Development Movement and green groups have highlighted what they regard as significant omissions.
Paul Morrison, Methodist Church Policy Adviser, said: “The aim of reducing greenhouse gases and increasing our renewable energy output must be applauded. We look to the Government to ensure the effectiveness of new schemes to boost renewable energy production and exploit environmentally friendly technologies."
He continued: “A recent report from the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission – ‘Prosperity Without Growth?’ – asks questions about how we build a sustainable economy that is not based on relentlessly increasing consumption. Christian groups have also been wrestling with questions about how we create an economy that is both respectful to the most vulnerable of God’s people and also to His creation. With both the economy and the environment in turmoil, now is the time to begin working towards a restructuring of the economy. I hope that this budget can be a small step towards this.”
Follow budget responses from church, development and green sources on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/Budget_2009