Union says government should create paid jobs for young people, not offer them up to companies for free

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The £500 million in avoided tax that a high street bank will now have to pay could fund full-time jobs above the living wage for all the young people who have been working for free under a controversial government scheme, says the PCS.

Divided between the 34,000 16 to 24-year-olds who have been put onto the government’s work experience programme, the money could pay salaries of £14,706 a year, or £8.08 an hour for a 35-hour week.

The UK national living wage – paid by an increasing number of employers – is £7.20 an hour, and £8.30 in London.

A tax loophole that allowed Barclays to avoid paying GBP 500 million in corporation tax has been closed by HM Revenue and Customs.

The union points out that this is a “drop in the ocean” compared to more than GBP 120 billion in tax revenue that is avoided, evaded or uncollected every year.

While genuine work experience and training can have a valid role in helping people find a career they want to pursue, the union says the government is exploiting young people at a time of high and rising unemployment and seeking to blame them for being out of work.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is a drop in the ocean compared to the tens of billions lost to our public finances because mainly wealthy individuals and organisations do not pay all they should in tax.

“With more than one million young people out of work, the government urgently needs to start chasing the fat-cat tax dodgers and creating long-term paid jobs that get people into work and off benefits, instead of offering them up to companies to work for free.”


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