Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has berated the government for failing to take swift action to contain unemployment.
"Government complacency is betraying a generation of unemployed. The [COVID-19] pandemic hit a year ago but the government's failure to move quickly is condemning a whole generation of young people to joblessness and rejection and many to mental depression", Brown said on Monday.
The ex-prime minister claimed the government's Restart scheme for long-term jobless adults doesn't work, and that Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Kickstart project to tackle long-term unemployment among the under-25 age group had helped only three out of every 1,000 young people.
"The time for the chancellor to act is this Wednesday. His budget must kickstart Kickstart and restart Restart. He has to deliver a budget with the impetus, ambition, and money to out match the scale of the looming unemployment tragedy", Brown pointed out.
He was referring to Sunak's speech on 3 March, when the chancellor is due to deliver the details of the country's spring budget in a keynote address to MPs in the House of Commons.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was quick to respond to Brown's remarks by claiming that he is "best remembered for leaving the [UK] economy in a terrible state, with much higher unemployment than we are bearing now".
"Whereas this government has taken unprecedented action to support people to stay and get back into work. Our Plan for Jobs has been rightly targeted at those hardest hit. The Kickstart scheme has already created more than 120,000 jobs for young people in less than six months – more than Gordon Brown's Future Jobs Fund ever created", Coffey added.
Official figures show that unemployment in the UK stands at about 1.7 million, which is about 4.9% of the working population.
The AFFE study argued, however, that tax records and benefit claims appear to indicate that the actual figure stands at more than 2 million and will most likely to increase to 3.5 million later this year.