A leading member of the Catholic church has spoken out against the austerity measures being implemented by the coalition government and has warned that the most vulnerable members of society are those being hit the hardest.
The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, told a parliamentary audience that parts of the population who were least equipped to deal with the cutbacks were being disproportionately hit.
The Archbishop said that the impact of personal debt, being caused by less work for the young, a lack of adequate housing provisions and not enough support, were leading to increased levels of ‘hardship and distress.’ He added that at the same time, vulnerable parts of the community were struggling with the austerity measures and the impact of the cutbacks, ‘some aspects of the distribution of wealth cause scandal and dismay.’
Speaking at a charitable event organised by Caritas Social Action Network, the Archbishop urged parliament to ensure that their policies were ‘really influenced’ by the individuals who were out on the streets and working in the ‘front line.’ In a reference to the riots which took place over the summer, he added that the vast majority of young people work hard to keep ‘their dignity and self respect’ and said that they should be provided with full support to achieve their potential.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister has moved to demonstrate that the government is committed to helping to develop young workers, by freeing up £250 million for businesses to plough into training and education.
The pot of money is being provided to companies all over Britain, regardless of size and it is hoped that the investment in youth will help to trigger growth and development, as well as slicing down the number of young people out of work.
The scheme will provide money to any business which can demonstrate how their staff will benefit from an injection of cash, with the initiative becoming available from the New Year onwards. Around £50 million is being provided in the first year of the scheme, with a further £200 million in the second year.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said that the money would ‘encourage greater competition in the market’ and, as well as providing ‘sustainable growth,’ would also give bosses ‘greater ownership of the vocational skills agenda.’
The Prime Minister also publicly backed the project, describing it as a ‘radical new approach’ and saying that he hoped the money would allow more firms to take on apprentices which would help equip the UK with the skills to help ‘boost growth.’ David Cameron acknowledged that ‘times are tough’ and admitted that young people are particularly being hit hard by the current economic climate as they try and find a career opening. He added that he was ‘determined’ to ensure that Britain’s young workers were provided with ‘the best skills, training and opportunities to succeed’ and pointed out that the investment was being made, despite cuts elsewhere.
The director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) agreed that action needed to be taken to help young Brits find work, but he suggested a rather different approach.
Rather than a scheme investing in apprenticeships, John Cridland, said that the government should provide businesses with a cash incentive to employ young workers who were under-qualified and with little or no experience, at the expense of older applicants or foreign workers. The head of the CBI said that failing to act could leave a generation of ‘scarred’ workers and lack of a skilled workforce.
Mr Cridland said that by paying firms £1,500 to recruit a younger member of staff, the government would be able to stimulate growth without breaking their austerity plan. However, it seems that David Cameron prefers the idea that Vince Cable has come up with…