YOUNG people who have lost their jobs in the recession were today promised work or training under a plan to reduce dole queues in Swindon.

Chancellor Alistair Darling used his annual Budget statement to unveil a package of measures to “prevent a new generation of young people becoming a lost generation”.

They included a “guarantee” that, from January, anyone under the age of 25 who has been out of work for 12 months will be offered a job with private companies or councils or a place in training.

Mr Darling, backing the pledge with £260m for training and subsidies, said the Government was working with employers to create or support as many as 250,000 jobs.

He also announced a further £650m to provide an additional 54,000 places in sixth forms and FE colleges in the next academic year to ensure every 16 or 17-year-old who wanted to stay in education or training could do so.

The Budget came as latest monthly figures showed the number of Jobseekers' Allowance claimants in Swindon rose by more than 10 per cent to 6,336 in March.

Mr Darling said: “It is not in any Government’s power to prevent all job losses. And even when the recovery is under way, it will take time for unemployment to start falling. But Governments must give people targeted help to find a new job as quickly as possible - and, where necessary, to gain the new skills which will allow them to do this.

“The alternative is a return to the days when a whole generation of young people found themselves abandoned to a future on the scrapheap. We will not repeat that mistake.”

Across the UK, the claimant count increased by 74,000 in March, taking the total claimant unemployment rate to 4.5 per cent.

South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove said: “This budget is delivering real help now to get people, especially young people, quickly back into work, and support businesses and homeowners facing problems.

“The funding found for further education places is fantastic for Swindon. We already have far too few young people staying on at school.”

North Swindon MP Michael Wills said: “It’s very important for Swindon because the number of jobless in the town has trebled, and I very much welcome the fact the Chancellor is signalling we are not going to leave anybody to fend for themselves, but are going to do everything possible to help them.”

However, North Wiltshire MP James Gray said: “This is a thoroughly dishonest budget. The notion that the Chancellor can be trying to persuade us we are anything other than bust is ridiculous.

“Unemployment is rising faster than ever in history and our debt is enormous. Alistair Darling pretends this is a Budget for jobs when it is a desperate attempt to help Labour.”

Mr Darling also announced a “scrappage scheme” to encourage people to buy new cars and help motor manufacturers like Swindon's Honda. Under the scheme, which will be launched next month, motorists who trade in cars over 10 years old before March 2010 will receive a £2,000 discount on a new vehicle.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, of which Honda is a member, said: “This is good news for consumers and will get people back into showrooms, kick-starting demand in the market.”

Ms Snelgrove added: “People know I’ve lobbied hard for this scrappage scheme which will directly benefit Swindon and will mean jobs in car manufacturing are safer. People in Swindon who are thinking of swapping an older vehicle for a new car will gain, and workers throughout the supply chain will benefit.”