UK to spend four billion pounds to push long-term unemployed into work

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s finance ministry said on Tuesday that the government would spend more than 4 billion pounds over the next three years to get the long-term unemployed and other job-seekers back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Finance minister Rishi Sunak will make the announcement as part of a set of spending plans on Wednesday, which will come alongside new official forecasts that are likely to show a sharp rise in unemployment ahead.

“This Spending Review will ensure hundreds of thousands of jobs are supported and protected in the acute phase of this crisis and beyond with a multi-billion package of investment to ensure that no one is left without hope or opportunity,” Sunak said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Bank of England forecast that the jobless rate would rise to nearly 8% by the middle of next year from 4.8% in the three months to September.

The finance ministry said 2.9 billion pounds would be spent over the next three years to get more than 1 million people who had been unemployed for more than a year back to work, with 400 million pounds being spent in the 12 months from April.

Those unable to find work would be given “regular, intensive jobs support tailored to their circumstances”.

A further 1.4 billion pounds would be spent on other job-seekers and on unemployment offices, which administer benefit claims and typically require recipients to provide regular proof of that they are actively seeking work.

Sunak also confirmed that a programme to subsidise employers to hire younger workers would go ahead with 1.6 billion pounds of funding to support up to 250,000 jobs.

The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the new funding.

“The scarring effects of long-term unemployment are all too real, so the sooner more people can get back into work the better,” CBI policy director Matthew Fell said.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg