As the UK government imposed a strict national lockdown back in March, millions of people have been forced to claim Universal Credit as they were left jobless as businesses closed their doors.
During the lockdown, the number of young people claiming Universal Credit increased by 250,000 to a staggering 538,000.
The increase took place between March and July.
This means one in 13 of seven million Britons aged between 16 to 24 now claim the benefit.
Today, the government launches their £2billion scheme, KickStart, to get people back into work.
Rishi Sunak launches £2billion scheme
Thousands of under-25s on Universal Credit
According to reports, the scheme will initially be open until December 2021.
Employers will be able to offer work placements to benefit claimants with the state covering 100 percent of the minimum wage, national insurance and pension payments.
The government will also give £1,500 grants to help with training and support and so far, major employers such as Tesco has signed up.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.
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“The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.”
Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added: “As we launch our £2 billion Kickstart programme, putting young people at the heart of our revival – we are urging businesses to get involved in this innovative scheme and take advantage of the enormous pool of potential out there.
“Young people taking part will receive on-the-job training, skills development and mentoring, as we get them on that first rung of the jobs ladder and on their way to successful careers.”
Last night, Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned under-25s could carry a “wage scar on their backs” after being forced to claim benefits so young.
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What is Universal Credit?
The former Conservative party leader said: “They will get out of the habit of work.
“If a young person does not enter the world of work early, then it becomes very difficult for them to enter later on.
“Now is the time when you damage them or you help them.”
Despite fears of a second wave of the deadly pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging people to return to offices instead of working from
Iain Duncan Smith warns of unemployment
Mr Johnson admitted yesterday there is still going to be more “of this wretched COVID” still to come but moved forward with plans to help the economy.
He said during a Cabinet meeting: “People are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country and quite right too.
“And though of course we know that there is still going to be more of this disease, this wretched COVID still to come, and although we know there will be more outbreaks, we are absolutely confident that we are going to be able to deal with those outbreaks and bit by bit this incredible country is getting back on its feet and recovering from this crisis.”
Professor Chris Whitty threatens to quit
However, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has reportedly threatened to quit if the government pushes to get workers back into work.
This would cause massive damage to public trust in the government.
However, a Department of Health source rubbished claims Professor Whitty would quit.
They said: “Chris is not threatening to resign and hasn’t threatened to resign.”