Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Sunday, 2 May 2010 16:51 UK

Tories pledge "biggest" back-to-work push in UK history

David and Samantha Cameron in Newquay
Mr Cameron pledged to support "sustainable tourism" in Cornwall

The Conservatives have promised the "biggest and boldest" back-to-work programme in the country's history as part of their "contract for jobs".

Tory leader David Cameron said small firms would get £2,000 cash bonuses to take on apprentices while there would be extra college places for under-25s.

Speaking in Cornwall, he said he would cut business taxes, help firms to recruit staff and make "work pay".

Labour say the Tories will scrap existing help for the youth unemployed.

They say the Conservatives would abolish the Future Jobs Fund, which aims to provide 200,000 work or training opportunities for people aged between 18 and 24 who have been out of the job market for a year.

'Economically inactive'

Mr Cameron said tackling unemployment was the "most important issue" facing the next government.

"As we stand today, we have got one in four adults economically inactive, 900,000 young people not in education, not in employment, not in training," he said.

"That is not good for our country. We have got to get Britain back to work."

He said a future Tory government would roll existing Labour employment programmes into a new work scheme, focused on encouraging firms to take on new recruits and giving opportunities to young people.

As part of this, there will be 400,000 additional apprenticeship, training and college places.

Mr Cameron said such support was a key strand of the party's "contract" on jobs, alongside its commitment to scrap part of Labour's planned National Insurance rise next year and to introduce sanctions for benefit claimants unwilling to accept work.

By publishing "contracts" in key areas, such as health and education, the Tories say the public will be able to hold them to account on whether they make good on their policy promises.

Speaking in London, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Labour would work "night and day" to help people find jobs and that Conservative economic policy had "always let the country down".

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