Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Monday, 26 May 2008 17:25 UK

Tory work plan for young jobless

The Conservatives say there is no excuse for the young to be jobless

The Conservatives have announced a tightening of their proposals to get the young jobless back into work.

Under the amended plans, anyone under 21 who is unemployed for three months would be sent for an intensive programme of work-related activity.

If they were still jobless after a year they would be moved to a full-time 12-month community work programme.

A government spokesman described the three-month proposal as a "waste of public cash".

'No excuse'

Earlier this year, the Conservatives announced a raft of welfare proposals, including making people who claimed Jobseekers' Allowance for more than two years do 12 months community work.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to give more details of the amended schemes in a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies in London on Tuesday.

Mr Grayling said there was no excuse for fit young people to be out of work.

Chris Grayling outlines the Conservative proposals for employment 'boot camps'

"We all know that on a typical working day, you can see young people hanging around in town centres in almost every part of this country," he said.

"This approach is designed to recognise that whilst young people may not always get the job they want immediately, they are better off in a job and looking to move on than languishing outside of the work place.

"If they drop out of work again there will be even tougher limits on the amount of time they can spend at home on benefits.

"Indeed, many will be referred straight back on to a structured return-to-work programme or a community work programme.

"Doing nothing will not be an option. So they simply won't have a chance to become detached from the work place and from preparation for work."

'Street-corner culture'

At present, under-24s who have been claiming Jobseekers' Allowance for six months or more must take part in the government's New Deal programme for young people.

This scheme, which involves a personal mentor and work experience, helps young people look and prepare for work.

The Tories said their proposals would stop people from "playing the system", whereby they sign up to a New Deal programme, take a job for a while and then go back on benefits afterwards.

Mr Grayling said: "With this approach, for those who are struggling there will be real help. For those who are not there will be no opt-outs."

The Conservatives would end the "street-corner benefit culture among young people which this government has left to fester for the past 11 years", he added.

A spokesman for Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said as most young people find a job within six months, the three-month scheme would be a "waste of public cash".

"In April this year, 210,700 18-24 year olds claimed for up to six months while only 30,700 claimed for 6-12 months, falling to only 6,000 after 12 months," he said.

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