All of the focus of the last week in politics has been the storm around A level results. This is without doubt one of the most shambolic situations any Government has found itself in, one which has no easy way out.
The only positive thing I can take from it is that the 6th formers interviewed were so much more honest, articulate and intelligent than Government Ministers that it gives me hope for the future. Gavin Williamson lingers on as Secretary of State; a daily reminder that even with an 80 seat majority Johnson lacks personal authority.
While all of this has been going on the Government has been messing up another aspect of young peoples lives.
Back in July Rishi Sunak announced a future plan for jobs. This was a pretty sensible plan to protect employment in the aftermath of Covid. The total plan was worth up to £30bn, of which a slice (over £2bn) was earmarked for Kickstart – a scheme to encourage employers to employ under 25s.
This is a good idea. A very very good idea. Sunak apparently has a monopoly on good ideas in this administration.
Kickstart is really an old idea rebadged. The last Labour Government introduced the Future Jobs Fund after the Credit Crunch. The evaluation of FJF showed a net benefit to the Government through lower benefits and higher tax receipts, and individuals benefited to an average of £4000. A big success.
Despite this it was scrapped by the Cameron Government as it was “expensive, badly targeted and did not work”, none of which was true.
It would have been easy to simply re-introduce the FJF under the Kickstart brand, which would have had the scheme up and running quickly. Fast enough to have had an impact on school leavers, or people displaced in the A level fiasco.
This would however, have meant that the current Government would have to admit that scrapping the FJF was a mistake. The Conservative Party never criticise their own record in office, while the Labour Party go out of their way to trash their own.
The launch of Kickstart was delayed while policy was written and the announcement of the rules for the scheme were due to be revealed early August.
The crisis over education has now scared politicians so much that the guidance won’t be available until mid-September. There is no start date for the programme.
This is a shambles. Not as public a shambles as exam results, but a shambles none the less.
By telling employers that there will be wage subsidy in the future for employing under 25s it encourages businesses to put off hiring young people until the scheme is available, right at the moment when school leavers are looking for a future.
This is a crap situation which could have been easily resolved by a competent Government
But this isn’t a competent Government. It’s a shambles. And it creates the indelible impression among young people and parents alike that the Government doesn’t understand, or care about young people.
I’m old enough to remember the 80s when the Tories gained a reputation for indifference to a crisis in youth unemployment. That generation cheered when they finally voted the Conservatives out.
Those articulate, honest young people who the Government let down today will be working, waiting, learning, planning for the moment when they can cheer the Conservative Party from office.
Quite right too.