Monday, 29 June 2009

UPDATE: UK PM Brown Announces New Jobs Program For Under-25s

UPDATE: UK PM Brown Announces New Jobs Program For Under-25s

(Adds details, quotes)

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Monday new plans to cushion the impact of the recession, including extra money to fight youth unemployment and build affordable housing.

A year into a severe recession and less than 12 months from the next general election, Brown outlined a series of proposals, which also included planned public services reforms and changes to the political system.

Brown said the new jobs program, which will start January 2010, would guarantee a job or training for those under 25 who have been out of work for a year. Those who don't accept the guaranteed job or training will have their welfare benefits cut.

He said this GBP1 billion program, which will be financed from funds set aside in the budget, will provide 100,000 jobs for young people.

Brown said that a series of government job programs announced since the recession began will save some 500,000 jobs. He didn't say how that calculation was made.

"There is a real choice for our country...creating jobs or doing nothing. Driving growth forward or letting the recession take its course," he said.

The prime minister also said he would more than treble funding for affordable housing over the next two years to GBP2.1 billion from GBP600 million. The money will be brought forward from future years spending plans.

Brown said the extra spending will deliver 20,000 new affordable homes, creating 45,000 jobs in the construction sector.

Brown announced various other reforms, including greater choice in public services and further reforms of the upper house of parliament.

He also confirmed the creation of a GBP150 million Innovation Fund that will be able to lever up to GBP1 billion of funding for key sectors, like life sciences and low carbon technologies.

Brown reiterated that the new economic programs would be paid for by reprioritizing its policies, not by adding to existing spending levels or debt.

Brown's Labour Party must hold an election by June 2010. Labour has been far behind in the polls and Brown faced challenges to his leadership in early June.

However, the prime minister has shored up his position recently and has put the opposition Conservative Party somewhat on the defensive on the issue of public spending in recent days.

-By Laurence Norman, Dow Jones Newswires; 44-207-842-9270; laurence.norman@dowjones.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 29, 2009 11:56 ET (15:56 GMT)


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