Conservatives extend apprenticeships incentive

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the government’s apprenticeship scheme to the end of January, as part of a £500m jobs support package.

The scheme offers bonuses of £3,000 for every apprentice a business hires and was first launched in August 2020.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Sunak said: “Young people have been hit especially hard by the crisis, which is why our Plan for Jobs, launched last year, is focused on helping them get the skills they need to get the jobs they want.

“By boosting the cash incentives for our apprenticeship scheme we’re improving opportunities for young people to stay in and find work – this could not be more important in our economy’s recovery.”

The government’s Kickstart scheme, which subsidises job placements for young people on universal credit, will also be extended from December until the end of March.

The move signals that the Conservatives are looking to stave of rising levels of unemployment now the furlough scheme has ended.

The announcement seems to have gone down well with the property industry.

Nathan Emerson, Propertymark’s chief executive, said: “During the time that the apprenticeship incentive was increased to £3,000 for employers, Propertymark Qualifications saw the number of estate agent apprentices registering for their qualifications quadruple compared to the previous year.

“Now that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has announced an extension to the funding which will remain available until January 2022, we’re excited to see more young blood entering the property sector which in turn will help it continue to flourish and provide youngsters with the stepping stones to enter the exciting world of estate and letting agency.”

However Sunak signalled that further spending pledges need to be funded by tax rises rather than borrowing.

He added: “Whilst I know tax rises are unpopular – some will even say un-Conservative – I’ll tell you what is un-Conservative.

“Unfunded pledges, reckless borrowing, and soaring debt.

“Anyone who tells you that you can borrow more today, and tomorrow will simply sort itself out just doesn’t care about the future.

“Yes, I want tax cuts. But in order to do that, our public finances must be put back on a sustainable footing.”

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