The chief executive of B&Q-owner Kingfisher has criticised a government plan to get young people back into work as being “too clunky” and called on Chancellor, George Osborne, to help get first-time buyers onto the property ladder in next week’s Autumn Statement.
Ian Cheshire made his comments as the world’s third-largest home-improvement group posted a 6 per cent fall in profits to £257 million over the quarter to October 27, after a fall in sales in the UK and France.
Ahead of the Autumn Statement, the Kingfisher boss called for “targeted measures around employment, particularly if we could see youth employment measures starting to bite”.
The Government’s Youth Contract, which was launched in April to provide employers with an incentive to take on unemployed youngsters aged between 18 and 24, has been criticised for low take-up and Cheshire said: “The intent of the Youth Contract was clearly entirely laudable in terms of getting people back to work. The detail and the way it was structured was too clunky.
“There is a conversation to be had with the Government about how to make that resource easier to target.”
He also called on George Osborne to offer help for first and second-time property buyers next Wednesday, “because this is the part of the market that seems to have seized up”.
Although B&Q’s underlying sales fell by 4 per cent, a strong performance from its Screwfix trade format helped the UK and Ireland business grow profits by 5.7% to £59 million. Boosted by 12 new shops and growing online revenues, 252-store Screwfix grew sales by 10.9 per cent to £149 million.