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Sunak’s Back to Work Scheme to Help 82,000 Fewer People Than Expected

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The Kickstart scheme is meant to support 16-24 year olds in getting  back to the workplace.

Rishi Sunak’s scheme aiming to help young people get back into employment after the pandemic has come under criticism after a blistering report by MP’s said, ‘the early delivery was chaotic,’ and was the scheme was launched ‘very quickly at the expense of clear guidance and basic management information.’

The scheme, run by the department for Work and Pensions, originally aimed to help 250,000 young people secure work placements. However the DWP now believes it will only be able to support 168,000 individuals.

As part of the Kickstart scheme, firms that agree to offer six months work placements to 16-24 year olds on universal credit, will be paid up to £1,500.

In return the government will completely cover the cost of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week, which they encourage companies to top up.

However the DWP has expressed concerns over whether the right young people are being moved into the Kickstart roles.

They are also concerned they don’t know how firms are spending the grants supplied by the government.

The scheme, which has been delayed by three months to begin in March this year, is predicted to cost less than its original budget of £1.9bn forecasted to cost less at 1.2bn.

The Public Accounts Committee commented on the frustration the businesses feel due to the delay of the scheme, ‘many employers have been frustrated at the slow progress in finding suitable people to fill the Kickstart vacancies they have created.’

However Government officials are blaming lockdowns and the extension of furlough on the fact that the scheme has had a lower take up rate than expected.

The DWP says it lacks data on how long it takes to fill the Kickstart roles, it accused the government of having a ‘disappointing lack of curiosity about how the scheme is actually working for employers and the young people that the scheme is meant to help.’

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier said, ‘The department simply has no idea whether this scheme was worth the money, not least because it has little idea what was delivered for it.’

A Government spokesperson hit back defending the scheme, ‘Kickstart has categorically delivered, giving more than 130,000 young people opportunities to work, earn and improve their prospects. It responded to extraordinary circumstances at unprecedented pace, as part of the wider Plan for Jobs which has defied forecasts of unemployment rising to 12 per cent – the headline rate is actually 4.1%. We will consider the PAC’s conclusions as we continue our mission to get people into work so they can take home more money.’

Have you had any experience with kickstart? Do you believe it’s been a success?

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Final shortlist for Tory leadership revealed after Sajid Javid drops out of race

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Sajid Javid has dropped out the leadership race to become the new leader of the Conservative party.

The former health secretary’s resignation, which came within hours of Rishi Sunak last Tuesday, led to a domino effect of departures.

Ultimately, their resignations led to the eventual demise of Boris Johnson as prime minister.

The final shortlist for the Tory party’s leadership has been confirmed this evening. Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi remain in the fight to become Mr Johnson’s replacement.

Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, announced the final list mere minutes after Mr Javid confirmed he would no longer be in the running. The 52-year-old said the Tory party ‘must now look outwards, not inwards’ in order to win the next election.

‘Serving in government is a true privilege,’ Mr Javid said in a statement this afternoon.

It has been just seven days since I took the difficult decision to resign from the most important job I have ever had, as Health Secretary during a pandemic.

‘Since then, I have set out the values and policies I think are right for the future of our great country. I believe the party must now look outwards, not inwards, if we are to win again.

‘There is an abundance of both ideas and talent in our party. One of the candidates will be given the honour of becoming prime minister.

‘I look forward to seeing the debate unfold and to see colleagues working together as a united Conservative Party once the leadership election is concluded.’

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Who could replace Boris Johnson as the next Tory leader and prime minister?

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Not long ago Chancellor Rishi Sunak was seen as the front runner to replace Boris Johnson, but his popularity has waned and now the field of potential successors is far more open. So who could throw their hat in the ring?

Tory MPs are preparing to cast votes that will decide Boris Johnson’s future, after more than 54 of them submitted letters saying they had no confidence in his leadership.

If the majority of his party choose to support him, under current party rules he will be protected against further challenge for a year. If he loses the vote, however, a leadership contest will be triggered – less than three years since he was first elected.

These are the candidates that could stand to replace him:

  • Rishi Sunak – Up until the last few months, the chancellor was seen by many Conservative MPs as the frontrunner in the race to succeed Mr Johnson. A poll in January found that almost half of Tory members thought Rishi Sunak would make a better leader and could win more seats at the next election than Mr Johnson. But after introducing a number of policies – such as increasing National Insurance contributions – that went down badly with Tory MPs, his popularity has slumped.
  • Liz Truss – Ms Truss, like Mr Sunak, is widely seen to have been laying the groundwork for a future tilt at the top job with her social media output. She has been an MP since 2010 and began rising up the ministerial ladder soon after entering parliament. She is currently the longest continuously serving member of the cabinet, having held positions under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson
  • Jeremy Hunt – The current chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee was Boris Johnson’s rival in the head-to-head run-off in the last Conservative leadership election in 2019. While Mr Hunt appears to have grown to enjoy his role as a party grandee and chair of a select committee, he has repeatedly refused to rule out another run at the leadership. His backers believe his strength as a candidate would come from not being tainted by being part of Mr Johnson’s cabinet.
  • Sajid Javid – Sajid Javid has held almost every senior cabinet position – he is currently health secretary, but has served as chancellor, home secretary, housing secretary, business secretary and culture secretary. He returned to Boris Johnson’s cabinet last summer having dramatically resigned as chancellor at the start of 2020 when he refused to allow Number 10 to choose his team of advisers. During his time on the backbenches he made efforts to portray himself as a Thatcherite and was critical of some COVID measures, but his support for the Remain campaign in the Brexit referendum, and recent backing of Plan B measures, may put off some Conservative MPs.
  • Priti Patel – She was a major backer of Boris Johnson’s leadership bid in 2019 and was rewarded by being appointed home secretary. But since taking on that role her star appears to have faded, with her handling of the small boat crossings in the channel being a source of significant criticism. Her popularity among the right wing of the parliamentary party means her candidacy should not be written off, but questions over her handling of the Channel migrant crisis have likely dented her chances. However, a report published in November 2020 by the prime minister’s then adviser on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, had found the home secretary had breached the ministerial code with behaviour that amounted to bullying.
  • Dominic Raab – Dominic Raab stood in as acting prime minister when Boris Johnson was struck down with COVID in the spring of 2020. His current position as both justice secretary and deputy prime minister should, on paper at least, put him in a strong position to put his hat in the ring. But his attempt to win the top job did not succeed in 2019, and many cast doubt on the idea it would he would be able to secure sufficient support from Conservative MPs this time around.
  • Michael Gove – Currently serving as the secretary of state for the new levelling up department, Michael Gove would be one of the most experienced candidates should he choose to run. He has been at the heart of Boris Johnson’s government throughout his premiership, first running the cabinet office, and then taking on responsibility for what the prime minister described as the central plank of his agenda. But his decision to pull the rug from under Boris Johnson’s leadership bid in 2016, having initially been his campaign chairman, has lived long in the memory of Conservative MPs.

Would you like to see Boris stand down? Who do you think should replace him?

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Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra auction off trophy for $900,000 to help Ukrainian army during Russian war

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Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra have auctioned off the trophy they won at the Song Contest for $900,000 (£700,000) to help the Ukrainian army during the war with Russia.

Oleh Psiuk, Ihor Didenchu, Vlad Kurochka, Vitalii Duzhyk, Tymofii Muzychuk and Oleksandr Slobodianyk auctioned off the glass microphone they won with their performance of Stefania in Turin earlier this month.

They raised a further $370,000 (£293,000) by raffling off the pink bucket hat frontman Oleh wore during the performance.

The winning bid for the trophy was attributed to Whitebit, a cryptocurrency exchange, and came in the form of 500 Ethereum.

Addressing the huge amount of money raised, the band wrote on Facebook: ‘You guys are amazing!

‘We appreciate each and everyone of you who donated to this auction and a special thanks to the team Whitebit who purchased the trophy for $900,000 and are now the rightful owners of our trophy.’

(Picture: AP)

The money will go to a charitable fund which raises money for Ukrainian forces against the Russian army.

Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula, who hosted the auction, said there were 31,088 entries into the hat raffle, and that the winner was in the Czech Republic.

According to those present at Eurovision, at the end of their performance Kalush asked the audience to help Ukraine and Mariupol amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

The band had been granted special permission to leave Ukraine, where men aged 18 to 60 could be called up to fight and are not allowed to leave the country during the conflict.

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