Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Day 1 - Setting an agenda for change

After a late night at the Conference hotel it was an early rise to get to the conference venue. Manchester, like Birmingham last year, offers a very different conference experience to that the Conservative Party has been used to in Bournemouth and Blackpool over decades - some good and some not so good.

The venues themselves are far better, more open and an all round more comfortable experience. The down side is that a number of our best volunteers are deterred from coming to conference at city centre venues by the extortionate cost of hotel rooms - many costing twice as much this week as they did last week or next.

Our conference agenda yesterday was altered so that David Cameron and his team could promote new policies. They did so in a collegiate form with George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Michael Gove, David Willetts and Baroness Warsi all taking to the stage in an extraordinary example of teamwork.

So what did David Cameron say?

He outlined plans for a massive programme to "Get Britain Working".

If you were to summarise this programme you would simply say David Cameron's plan is to simplify Labour’s numerous and piecemeal programmes into one single back-to-work programme for everyone on out of work benefits.

The Work Programme will include support back into work for the 2.6 million people claiming Incapacity Benefits currently excluded by Labour. David confirmed we will abolish the Treasury’s rule that prevents the Government paying work providers using the benefits saved once someone has a job. This will allow us to offer support to the 2.6 million people on Incapacity Benefit.

We will offer greater support to the young unemployed by referring them on to the Work Programme after 6 months of unemployment compared to a year under the Flexible New Deal.
Under this scheme we will pay providers by results with a focus on truly sustainable outcomes and bigger rewards for getting the hardest to help into a job.

And our plans do not stop there:

David Cameron confirmed that 50,000 work pairing places, on average, each year for young people, who will be assigned to sole traders for six months of meaningful work experience and mentoring would be created by Conservative policy.

Then there are the 100,000 additional apprenticeships and training places each year, as well as the 50,000 additional training places at FE colleges each year that are being created for next year.

Finally there is the distressing news of Gary's death. Expansion of the government’s Young Apprenticeship (YA) scheme, from the current 10,000 to over 30,000 each year.

David Cameron said the measures were essential to tackle the problem of two and a half million people unemployed, with one in five young people unable to find a job, and he added: "Labour are now the party of unemployment, I want the new Conservative Party to be the party of jobs and opportunity and at the heart of it is a big, bold and radical scheme to get millions of people back to work."

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