UK Conservative Party Conference: Chancellor Sunak to Pledge £500 Mln in Aid to Tackle Unemployment

© REUTERS / JEFF OVERS/BBCBritain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks on BBC TV's The Andrew Marr Show
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks on BBC TV's The Andrew Marr Show - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.10.2021
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The conference held annually features speeches by prominent members of the party. This year it is being held in Manchester in a hybrid format, with attendees joining in person or via teleconference. On Wednesday, PM Boris Johnson will deliver a speech touching on such issues as the coronavirus pandemic and relations with the European Union.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is to announce 500 million pounds in government aid to tackle unemployment at the Conservative Party Conference, the British media has reported. Mr Sunak is expected to pledge to double down help for the job market, supporting individuals who are seeking jobs following the end of the government's furlough scheme.

The chancellor is also expected to outline his vision for the country's future economy, which will be reshaped around technology and innovation.

"With enhanced infrastructure and improved skills we are going to make this country not just a scientific superpower, not just the best place in the world to do business, I believe we're going to make the United Kingdom the most exciting place on the planet", Mr Sunak will say as per Sky News.

The proposed 500 million pounds will help extend several government programmes, including the Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to create jobs for young people aged 16-24, as well as the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme which helps individuals that have been out of a job for more than three months. In addition, the chancellor is expected to extend incentives to firms that have been hiring apprentices.

"Plan for Jobs Has Failed"

This year's Conservative Party Conference comes amid a rise in food prices, higher domestic energy bills, as well as a petrol crisis, which has affected other industries prompting the disruption of food supplies to supermarkets. Local media outlets write that Mr Sunak's speech and that of other Tory MPs will be closely followed by the public and scrutinised by critics.

Although official figures provided by the Office for National Statistics show that the government's aid helped the country to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, opposition MPs argue that the programmes failed to meet targets.

"The government's struggling 'Plan for Jobs' has failed to hit its original targets; it is not creating the number of jobs needed and has failed to address the supply chain crisis Britain is experiencing," said Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Reynolds adding that the extension of the program would "do nothing to compensate for the chancellor's tax rises, cost of living crisis and cuts to Universal Credit which are set to hammer millions of working families".

Mr Reynolds’ statement was echoed by SNP shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss who has argued that the government should instead focus on the dwindling household incomes and rising levels of poverty. Thewliss claims that the United Kingdom is facing "a Tory-made cost of living crisis".

"He must ditch the callous cuts to the Universal Credit uplift and use the upcoming Budget to introduce a meaningful package of support to secure a fair and equal recovery from the pandemic”, she said.

Aside from Rishi Sunak, the second day of the Conservative Party Conference will feature speeches from Brexit Minister Lord Frost, who is expected to touch upon how the UK woke up from the "long bad dream" of EU membership and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who will deliver remarks on the shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers and the ongoing petrol crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to close the event with a speech on 6 October.
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