NICK Clegg will today unveil new measures targeting the worst youth unemployment hot-spots in Yorkshire and around the country as the Government battles to avert a “lost generation” of disaffected young people.
The Deputy Prime Minister is to announce that subsidies made available for business to encourage them to take on young people out of work for nine months will be extended to a wider range of youngsters in the 20 worst-affected places including Barnsley, Hull and Rotherham.
It marks the first time the coalition has recognised the growing regional dimension to soaring levels of youth unemployment, and follows a series of reports in the Yorkshire Post warning that a “lost generation” of long-term young unemployed is being created in some towns and cities.
The scheme follows the Treasury’s surprise announcement yesterday of a U-turn on a 3p fuel price rise that had been due to come in this summer, which has also been warmly welcomed in Yorkshire, particularly in hard-pressed rural communities.
Chancellor George Osborne told MPs there will now be no rise in fuel duty for the rest of this year.
Labour slammed the new initiative on youth unemployment as “much too little and much too late”, while ridiculing Mr Osborne for yet another U-turn on the measures set out in his Budget.
But Mr Clegg is to insist that targeted help is the only way to avert the mounting youth unemployment crisis in the most deprived parts of the country.
“I can announce today that we will be helping young people in Hull, Rotherham and Barnsley with renewed urgency,” the Deputy Prime Minister will say.
“For a simple reason: these are the young people who are hardest to reach, in the labour markets that are hardest to crack – and they cannot be made to wait.”
Last month a report revealed there are a greater proportion of young people not in employment, education or training in Yorkshire than any other part of England.
Research by the Yorkshire Post showed there are now an estimated 100,000 young people unemployed across the region, including a hardcore of almost 8,000 stuck on the dole for over a year.
Many of these young people are found in areas such as Barnsley, Hull and Doncaster, and the measures to be set out by Mr Clegg this morning will aim to address that problem directly.
Currently, young people have to be out of work for nine months before they qualify for a Government programme which offers employers sizeable subsidies if they take them on.
In the hot-spot area, the wait will be reduced to six months – opening up the scheme to many thousands more young people.
“At this stage, three months can make all the difference,” the Sheffield Hallam MP will say.
“When you feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall, when you live in an area where opportunities are already few and far between, another 12 weeks of rejection letters, of being cut off, of sitting at home waiting, worrying, can seriously knock the stuffing out of you, making it extremely difficult to pick yourself up.”
The measure was immediately welcomed by the IPPR North think-tank, which lobbies for greater support for the regions.
“It is good news the Government is taking seriously the fact that unemployment is not evenly spread across the country,” said its director, Ed Cox.
“Young people in [some of these] places need greater help to get into work than their peers in other parts of the country.”
But Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said the measures did not go far enough.
“This is much too little and much too late,” he said. “This is a sticking plaster solution for what is now a national crisis.”