Brown pushes jobless agenda at London summit

By Alex Stevenson

Business and union leaders are considering the government’s proposals to tackle unemployment, including ‘golden hellos’ worth £2,500, at a summit in London today.

Employers will get a £2,500 payment for every long-term unemployed individual they agree to take on and train under the plans announced by Gordon Brown.

Additional funding for “intensive support” from Jobcentre advisers for those who have not found work after six months will be made available.

And where returning to employment remains impossible the government will provide “work-focused training” to help develop skills.

The prime minister said he hoped to help 500,000 people into work or work-focused training in the next two years.

The summit at the Science Museum in London comes amid rising unemployment and a UK economy on the brink of recession.

Mr Brown, pointing to France, Germany and the US as examples of other countries taking similar action, threatened a “failure to act” would lead to a “deeper and longer” contraction.

“We must today do more and everything we can to help those losing their jobs to find work again,” Mr Brown said.

“By acting together and working together we can help families and businesses through the downturn. We can also secure our future competitiveness as a global economy.

“Real help now and real hope for the future. With the steps we are taking together. with the public investment this govt is prepared to make… it is our determination that Britain will lead the world in showing what we can do.”

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell told BBC News 24 the government was targeting those who had been unemployed for six months.

“It’s harder for people to find a job at the moment. That’s why we want to provide this extra help for people,” he said, adding he wanted to prevent people turning into the long-term unemployed and becoming “the scars on people’s communities”.

The government announced over £1 billion to help people who had just lost their jobs before Christmas and today’s funding comes in addition to that.

But shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling said the government’s current announcements were “more spin than substance” and “are just designed to cover up the fact that Gordon Brown’s recession policies are not working”.

He added: “With unemployment rising faster than anytime for a generation just holding a job summit is hardly going to solve the problems we face.”