Gordon Brown unveiled a package of measures to get the long-term jobless back to work this morning that includes giving businesses up to £2,500 for every person they train who has been unemployed for more than six months.
Potentially that could mean an injection of up to £25m into the Northern Ireland economy to get the 10,050 men and women claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 26 weeks back into work, although take-up rates are likely to mean it is actually likely to be far lower.
The Prime Minister outlined his determination to prevent short-term claimants becoming long-term unemployed at a jobs summit in London.
As well as encouraging employers to recruit those out of work for lengthy periods, he pledged to use the £500m set aside as part of the Government’s fiscal stimulus to support people who want to start their own businesses or become self-employed to develop “the entrepreneurial spirit in our country”.
The Government views six months as a key tur ning point for the unemployed, with men and women claiming JSA who do not return to work within that period far more likely to remain on benefits for years.
Mr Brown said: “In total we estimate that with this guarantee and the additional financial support we are also announcing today we will be able to help half a million people into work or work-focused training over the next two years.
“I believe that by acting now and by working together we can help families and businesses through the downturn and — at the same time and by the same measures — secure our future competitiveness in the global economy.”
Across the UK 1.8m are out of work, but that figure is expected to rise significantly over |coming months as the impact of the growing economic crisis |and the collapse of many major high street chains is felt.
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell believes spending a “few hundred million, now it could save us billions in the long term”.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We have been arguing for the Government to pay subsidies to employers who take on people who are out of work.
“We therefore welcome today’s announcement but what the Government now needs to do is adopt our plans for a National Loan Guarantee Scheme to help existing businesses and to protect jobs.”