A north-east MP has said a “compulsory” jobs scheme is needed to protect young workers in the region during the North Sea downturn.
Dame Anne Begg, the Aberdeen South MP, highlighted concerns about the oil price drop during a debate in the Commons yesterday.
Labour want an initiative where anyone under 25 who has been receiving Jobseekers Allowance for a year, and anyone over 25 who has been receiving it for two years, would be offered a paid job or face losing benefits.
Dame Anne, who is chairwoman of the work and pensions select committee at Westminster, spoke about Aberdeen during the debate, saying: “When times are going to be hard for many people in the area, but are going to be particularly hard for those who are young, who can’t get their first rung on that ladder, then a compulsory jobs guarantee comes into its own.
“It becomes really, really important and I’m glad that it’s my party that will go into the next election making sure that young people will have their opportunity and there will be jobs created for them to take up.”
There are 917 claimants of Job Seekers Allowance in the Aberdeen North constituency and 528 in Aberdeen South, according to figures from the Commons Library.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith derided the Labour’s jobs guarantee as unfunded “cobbled together nonsense” that was “destined to fail”.
The Tory Cabinet minister said the Treasury had estimated the guarantee would cost more than £2billion a year which Labour have said they would fund by restricting tax relief on pensions and reinstating the bankers’ bonus tax.
But Mr Duncan Smith said the pension reforms would take at least three years to implement leaving a black hole in funding from the general election until 2018.
He said: “That’s a very important point – you can’t just wave a magic wand and say ’that’s it, the money is there’.”