Osborne 'ambition' of jobs for all
Chancellor George Osborne has declared his commitment to fight for "full employment" in Britain, making job creation a central plank of the Government's economic plan.
Speaking to workers at Tilbury Port in Essex, he said his "ambition" was for Britain to achieve the highest employment rate of any of the developed nations of the G7.
Mr Osborne was careful to to say that he was not offering a Government "guarantee" of a job, but with more than two million still seeking work, he said it was essential to get more people back into employment.
"It will take time to fix that. But we will not rest while we still have so much wasted potential in some parts of our country. That's why today I'm making a new commitment. A commitment to fight for full employment in Britain," he said.
Mr Osborne acknowledged that employment rates would continue to fluctuate - and stressed that he was not promising to abolish the ups and downs of the economic cycle.
"As we learnt again recently, you can't abolish boom and bust. So attempts past and present by governments to 'guarantee' a job to every person are doomed to fail," he said.
He also made clear that the Government would not seek to lower the unemployment rate by creating "artificial" public sector jobs, which simply ended up destroying employment as public spending spiralled out of control.
"You end up with more people unemployed instead of less. Then the politicians who make these guarantees get into a panic. So unemployed people are pushed on to sickness benefits to hide the real numbers," he said.
"That's what happened before we came to office. The politicians talked of guaranteeing full employment and ended up with a great recession and soaring unemployment."
He said the Government's approach depended upon providing the right environment for business to create jobs - cutting taxes on employment, reforming welfare, improving schools and developing Britain's infrastructure.
"There is no reason why Britain shouldn't aim to have the highest employment rate of any of the world's leading economies. To have more people working than any of the other countries in the G7 group," he said.
" That's my ambition. T he best place in the world to create a job, to get a job, to keep a job, to be helped to look for another job if you lose one.
"That is what I mean when I say that we are going for full employment."
Mr Osborne said that his approach was the the one that would lead to "fullest employment"
"Jobs matter - mass unemployment is never a price worth paying," he said in a rejection of former Conservative chancellor Lord Lamont's claim in the 1990s that rising joblessness had been a price "well worth paying".
He said that in return for helping businesses to create jobs, it was right that the Government said that those who could work must take the jobs that are available.
"That's the fair deal our society should always have stuck to. That's the fair deal that will underpin our commitment to full employment in the future, " he said.
"Of course, there will always be people in between jobs, people unable to work. And there are those with important caring responsibilities to their families and others not seeking work. They will never be included in a drive for full employment.
"But we all know that there is nothing kind or fair about leaving people who could work out of work and living on the dole."
For Labour, shadow chief treasury secretary Chris Leslie said the Government's economic strategy had left hundreds of thousands of young people stuck on the dole.
"Full employment is the right aspiration but George Osborne has announced no new policies today to help people into work," he said .
"While he has been Chancellor the number of young people stuck on the dole for more than 12 months has almost doubled and the number of people who want to work full-time but have had to take part-time jobs is at record levels.
"We need Labour's compulsory jobs guarantee to get young people and the long-term unemployed off benefits and into paid work."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused the Conservatives of being "tax magpies" who "hopped from one tax proposal to the next".
"I think a tax magpie is someone in a political party who sort of hops from one tax proposal to the next and then seeks to claim that other people's ideas are their own, and I'm really, really proud of the fact that it's Liberal Democrats who, far from jumping arbitrarily from one tax policy to the next, have always advocated one tax policy."