Monday, November 21, 2011

Richard Branson: Unemployed youth risk becoming a lost generation

Sir Richard Branson is to warn George Osborne that he will create a "lost generation" of young people who will never know work unless he takes radical steps in next week's Autumn Statement to kick-start the economy.

The Virgin tycoon, who writes overleaf, is calling for a three-point blueprint for growth to create more jobs – particularly for the young – and fund new businesses. His wish list includes making it easier for companies to employ workers on a part-time and flexible basis, cutting the time spent at university in half and the creation of a new government body to underwrite micro-finance for people who want to start their own businesses, modelled on the Student Loan Company.

The businessman, whose Virgin Money bought the taxpayer-owned Northern Rock for £1bn last week, will set out his blueprint in a letter this week to Mr Osborne, before the Autumn Statement on 29 November.

The Chancellor is under pressure to come up with radical ideas for stimulating growth when he addresses the Commons. In a parallel move, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has told Mr Osborne he must use any additional funding in the growth review to tackle youth unemployment after the tally rose above one million last week. Aides say the issue has become "toxic" for the coalition.

A wide-ranging panel of economic experts today sets out suggestions for a much-needed "Plan B" for growth, amid criticism the Chancellor is refusing to acknowledge that Britain's precarious economic position is not solely due to the eurozone crisis. more