The Taxpayers Alliance has caught the headlines today, with its proposal on 'Work for the Dole'. And they are right that we do have a growing problem of far too many people stuck on benefit for far too long. To tackle the living standards crisis and bring down the social security bill, we need to get the long-term unemployed back to work. And, as the Taxpayers' Alliance report points out, the government's Work Programme has not delivered. Introduced in June 2011, it is designed to tackle long term unemployment, but long term unemployment has continued to rise. It is now at the highest level since 1996. The programme made a faltering start, and data on its first two years were published in the summer. It missed all three of the minimum performance standards set for it. But our solution is different to the one proposed by the Taxpayers' Alliance. Labour is committed to introducing a Jobs Guarantee, funded by a bankers' bonus tax and restricting pension tax relief for those on the highest incomes. Our offer will be this. We will guarantee a choice of job offers to two groups of people:
- 18-24 year olds who have been in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance for a year; 28,000 people were in this position at the time of the General Election - now, over 70,000 are;
- Over 25s who have been in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance for over two years; there were some 40,000 people in this position at the election; now its 180,000, and the figure has almost doubled in the past year.
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