Dangerous disregard and more austerity
Published at 11:08, Thursday, 26 April 2012
LAST month’s budget ignored Keynes’s dictum, “look after unemployment and the budget will look after itself”.
With youth unemployment at record levels, the budget’s failure to introduce practical measures for unemployed young people displayed a dangerous disregard about the risks of losing a generation to joblessness and stunted careers.
The Chancellor ignored the pre-budget submissions of both the TUC and employers’ organisations, all of which had called for the introduction of bold measures to support young people.
The TUC wanted the Chancellor to focus efforts on tackling the record levels of youth unemployment, including the introduction of a new youth credit for all 16-24 year olds and a guarantee of paid work or training for any young person out of work for at least six months.
The CBI wanted several issues addressed including “making progress on better careers advice and school-business links.” And the British Chambers of Commerce argued for “doubling the amount of money... under the new Youth Contract.”
There was only one (not big) interesting announcement relating to young people: the intention to pilot later this year a system of enterprise loans to help young people start up and grow their own businesses although how much money will be available isn’t at all clear.
The Chancellor confirmed the so-called Growth Strategy – but nothing new – launched in last year’s budget. This has 12 education and skills measures. An accompanying document to this year’s budget updated progress.
They include setting up the Higher Education Global Online Portal; Project Enthuse, just started, to improve the quality of science teaching in schools; piloting undergraduate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) ambassadors; employer kitemarking of STEM subjects; relatively minor measures relating to apprenticeships; and an improved careers portal as part of the (ill-named) National Careers Service launched on April 5.
The Annual Easter Teachers’ Conferences confirmed a range of grievances spanning workload, pensions and pay, not least the Government’s wish to see public sector pay “more responsive to local pay rates”. The Treasury has sent evidence to Pay Review Bodies on introducing local pay structures.
The Chancellor’s restated commitment to stick with current spending restrictions into 2016/17 means further austerity for schools and colleges as education spending continues to fall behind inflation and capital budgets are halved.
Local authorities will come under further strain. And more generally the ferocity of the assault on the public sector, with four-fifths of the cuts still to come, will really hurt.
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk