The New Deal for the Young Unemployed is one of the Government’s flagship policies. Tony Blair has called it ‘the biggest ever programme to get the young and long-term unemployed back to work.’ Gordon Brown has claimed that hearing the experience of one successful New Deal trainee reminded him why he was in politics. And one of the five election pledges made in the 1997 Labour Party Manifesto was to ‘get 250,000 under 25-year olds off benefit and into work by using money from a windfall levy on the privatised utilities.’
The New Deal was launched in 12 pilot areas (or ‘Pathfinder’ areas) in January 1998 and the full national programme started in April. It has been backed by the full force of the Whitehall publicity machine, including an £8 million TV advertising campaign. And ministers have made much of their support for the programme.
Despite this, serious doubts about its cost and its effectiveness have a lready been expressed, both from the young unemployed and from business. What is the truth behind the spin and gloss? How effectively is the money being spent? And are the young unemployed the people who are most in need of the Government’s munificence?