Minister suggests people should get ‘better paid jobs’ to handle rising costs 

Young people to have ‘no option of life on benefits’ under Labour government

The Labour Party will set out its plan to reduce the number of young people out of work, education or training in a major pre-budget speech. 

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall will say that young people have a responsibility to take up work or training that is being offered.

She will point out that one in eight young people are now not in work, education or training (NEET), the highest level since 2016.

According to Office for National Statistics estimates, there were 851,000 NEETs between October to December 2023. This has risen by 20,000 compared to the same period in 2022 and accounts for 12 per cent of all 16-24-year-olds.

In a speech to the Demos think tank in central London, Kendall will say there is “no option of a life on benefits” for those able to work.

Labour’s plan focuses on recruiting thousands of mental health professionals and career advisers to encourage young people to work.

This would be funded by targeting tax breaks for private schools and closing tax loopholes used by some private equity fund managers.

Kendall will say: “Under our changed Labour Party, if you can work there will be no option of a life on benefits.”

She is expected to add: “This is our commitment to young people. We value you. You are important. We will invest in you and help you build a better future with all the chances and choices this brings.

“But in return for these new opportunities, you will have a responsibility to take up the work or training that’s on offer. Under our changed Labour Party, if you can work there will be no option of a life on benefits”.

In an interview with the Telegraph ahead of her speech, Kendall made a direct appeal to Conservative voters, saying: “If you believe in hard work, responsibility, taking care of yourself and your family… then take a look at us.”

Speaking to the newspaper, she also accused the chancellor of having “failed” on work. “We will not write [young people] off like the Conservatives”, she said.

“In return for those new opportunities, young people will have a responsibility to take up work or training when it’s offered.

“Because under a changed Labour Party, if you can work there will be no option of a life on benefits.

“And that’s not just because the vast majority of the British public think rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand. But because if you’re out of work or you lack basic qualifications, that could have a lifelong impact.

“That is not good enough for young people and it’s not good enough for our country. We believe that you should have the chance to fulfil your potential and live your hopes and dreams, no matter where you’re born, no matter what your parents did, no matter what your gender or the colour of your skin.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.