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UK Eyes US$3b Stimulus Package

BRITISH Finance Minister Alistair Darling is considering a 2-billion-pound (US$3 billion) package to boost jobs in Wednesday's budget, a government source said at the weekend.

Darling will deliver his annual budget statement on Wednesday, the same day as new figures are expected to show unemployment soaring in the economic recession.

Some experts such as Bank of England policy maker David Blanchflower have said recent sharp rises in the jobless total are only the tip of the iceberg and unemployment could hit 3 million by the end of the year.

A government source said the budget could feature a 2-billion-pound employment package to cover JobCentre Plus and a new initiative to target youth unemployment.

JobCentre Plus is an existing scheme run by the government to get people into work and help companies fill vacancies.

Blanchflower argues the projected rise in unemployment will disproportionately affect the young and that action is needed to prevent those hit becoming long-term unemployed.

Blanchflower has called for a massive fiscal stimulus to get the British economy out of recession but Darling's room for action is limited by the dire state of the public finances and the demands of an election due by June 2010.

Darling is expected to announce a huge rise in public borrowing to perhaps up to 12 percent of GDP even as he is forced to admit the economy will shrink by as much as 3.5 percent this year, its worst showing since World War II.


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