Local authorities warn on youth unemployment schemes

Job Centre in Kent Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high in the UK

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National schemes to tackle youth unemployment are not working, the group representing English councils has said.

The LGA said the current system was over-complicated, with 35 different national schemes across 13 different age boundaries costing £15bn a year.

Research by the LGA also found a drop of 8% in the number of young people in England who started a scheme last year compared with three years ago.

The government has insisted it is not complacent about youth unemployment.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: "This report fails to recognise that despite youth unemployment being a big challenge for a decade, the level has fallen by 38,000 since last year, and the number of young people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has fallen for 14 consecutive months."

He said the department was working locally with businesses and councils to help young people into work through Jobcentre Plus.

He said the Youth Contract alone would offer help to nearly 500,000 young people over three years.

And a new traineeship programme would be launched in the autumn to help those without the right experience or qualifications to get an apprenticeship or a job, he added.

'Meddling'

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics said youth unemployment, among those aged 16-24, had increased by 15,000 in the three months to June to reach 973,000 despite a fall of 4,000 in the overall level of unemployment.

Start Quote

Ministers need to act now to introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get any young person out of work for more than a year into a paying job - one they would be required to take”

End Quote Liam Byrne Shadow work and pensions secretary

The Local Government Association (LGA) said 50,000 fewer jobless young people were getting help from job schemes today, than was the case three years ago, despite long-term youth unemployment remaining stubbornly high.

Programmes include the Work Programme, which gives support to welfare claimants who need more help looking for and staying in work, and Youth Contracts, which create opportunities including apprenticeships and work experience.

The LGA said that not only was the national system too complicated, but that "meddling" by successive governments had made the situation worse.

It said that only 27% of 16 and 17-year-olds starting the government's Youth Contract were helped into training or work.

David Simmonds, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, added: "It's clear that nationally driven attempts to tackle youth unemployment aren't working.

"Many young people tell us that... finding a scheme that's right for them is a real challenge.

"While there are a number of good initiatives, government has side-lined councils and incentivised a series of services like schools, colleges and third sector providers to work in isolation of each other, with no clarity on who is responsible for leading the offer to young people on the ground.

"We think by aligning what's happening in local government with many of these schemes, we could get a lot more young people into work than is the case at the moment."

Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said David Cameron's government had "comprehensively failed young people".

"The Work Programme has missed every single one of its performance targets. The Youth Contract is on course to miss its targets by 92%.

"Ministers need to act now to introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get any young person out of work for more than a year into a paying job - one they would be required to take."

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