16/03/2012 09:58 GMT

Ed Miliband: Benefits Should Be Taken Away If Young Refuse Work

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for long-term unemployed young people to be guaranteed a job but stripped of benefits if they refuse the offer.

All under-25s out of work for more than one year would be given paid employment, funded by a bank bonus tax, for six months, under Labour plans.

The scheme would bring together government and business to create opportunities for youngsters but, in return, they would have a responsibility to seize those chances.

Announcing Labour's "real jobs guarantee", he criticised the Government's Work Programme for allowing the number of young people without jobs for more than six months to double over the past year.

"No young person should be left languishing on the dole for a year, two years, three years," he said in a speech to Labour's Youth Conference on Jobs at Warwick University.

"It is not the Britain I believe in, it is not the Britain you believe in, and it is not the Britain we would have under a Labour government.

"And that's why my ambition is this - to conquer long-term youth unemployment.

"The first line of a Labour Budget would be a tax on bank bonuses to get young people into work.

"To business we say: we'll pay the wages, if you provide the training. To young people we say: if you're out of work for a year we'll guarantee you the opportunity to work.

"Responsibility on the part of government to give every young person a chance, responsibility on business to make that chance real, and responsibility on the part of young people to take that chance.

"Saying no is not an option."

Mr Miliband insisted Labour's plan went much further than the Government's youth contract, which offers a subsidy to employers hiring young people.

It is also stronger than the previous Labour government's Future Jobs Fund, which offered six months of work to the long-term jobless, as the new scheme will include a training requirement, according to aides.

Under the scheme the Government would pay a full wage directly to business to cover 25 hours of work each week at the minimum wage, the equivalent of £4,000 per job.

In return, employers would be expected to train the young person for a minimum of 10 hours a week.

Young people who turn down the work or are sacked would face sanctions, including temporary withdrawal of benefit payments.

Lashing out at the coalition's record on youth unemployment, which has reached more than one million, he accused the Government of cutting opportunities for young people.

He said: "What is their solution? A Work Programme which does not guarantee work. A jobs programme scheme from this Government which does not offer jobs.

"Work experience of course has a role to play in helping people into work. But work experience is not the same as a real job. It cannot be the summit of our ambitions. There is only one solution to a jobs crisis - jobs."