Frank Field’s deconstruction of the New Deal for Young People makes damning reading. What is perhaps is even more damning is that despite the fact that despite the fact that the Department for Work and Pensions have had all day to formulate a response, the ‘rebuttal’ on the BBC website remains ultra-lame:
“Since 1997 the number of young people on unemployment benefits has fallen – not risen – by well over 100,000.”
… which only helps to make Field’s point. These kids are not getting jobs, they are turning into what is now ubiquitously referred to as ‘neets‘.
It is easy to forget quite what a flagship policy this was for Labour back in 1997. It was the basis of one of their famous five pledges and was initially funded by the only tax increase they promised – a windfall tax on utility companies. For a decade, if any opposition MP raised the merest of objections to how effective the policy is, the government came down on them like a ton of bricks. For years this has been trumpeted as one of their main, and most proud, achievements.
So for the New Deal to have not only failed to make progress on youth unemployment, but to actually go backwards, is a body blow to the pretty much everything Labour have stood for over the last decade. Add to this the disastrous tax credit fiasco and you can only marvel at the fact that the only person who has a shot at being their next leader is the main architect of such failure.