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COVID-19: Chancellor announces further details of Plan for Jobs expansion

Rishi Sunak this week announced changes to the Plan for Jobs, as furlough came to an end

Andrew Collier
Andrew Collier HR Adviser
On 4 October 2021, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £500 million expansion of the government's Plan for Jobs initiative which is said to target support predominantly to workers leaving the furlough scheme (and facing redundancy), the unemployed aged over 50, the lowest paid and also young people:
  •  A new enhanced support package for workers aged over 50 will aim to help them stay in and return to work by providing better information and guidance on later life planning. Those who are on Universal Credit and have lost their jobs will receive intensive, tailored support to help them find work. 
  • For the unemployed, the Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme is being extended to September 2022. This provides tailored support to those unemployed for over three months. The Job Finding Support Scheme will provide support for those coming off furlough and on Universal Credit. It will provide online, tailored, one-to-one support for those unemployed for less than three months, including recruitment advice, support with CVs and mock interviews.
  •  For young people, the Kickstart Scheme is being extended to March 2022 and will be open to applications until 17 December 2021. The £3,000 incentive payment for taking on a new apprentice is being extended until 31 January 2022. The Youth Offer is also being extended to 2025 and expanded to include 16- and 17-year-olds, in addition to the 18-24-year-olds currently covered. It provides job seeking support to unemployed young people on Universal Credit.
  •  To support the lowest paid, from April 2022, workers on Universal Credit will be able to access work coach support, which will focus on career progression advice. Job Centre Plus specialists will also work with employers to identify local opportunities to help workers progress. 

In respect of the end of the furlough scheme, the latest Office for National Statistics figures suggest that up to 800,000 people were on the furlough scheme when it closed on 30 September 2021, of whom more than 500,000 were aged over 50. Although peak unemployment levels are expected to be lower than was expected at the start of the pandemic, many businesses are still expecting redundancies following the end of the furlough scheme and older workers seem likely to be more severely impacted. Despite record job vacancies and employers struggling to hire talent in key areas, including HGV drivers and healthcare, there is polarisation in the job market, with unemployment levels across many age groups yet to recover and falls in economic activity among "mid-lifers".   It remains to be seen, therefore, whether the Plan for Jobs is doing enough for these older job seekers.  
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