Youth unemployment is problem we can’t afford

YESTERDAY. there was a debate in the House of Commons about youth unemployment.

The issue is of particular importance to South Shields because the number of long-term unemployed under 25 years of age has doubled here in the last 12 months.

This is a crisis that needs real attention and thought, because it is a problem this country can’t afford.

It was disappointing to see the Government benches seeking to blame all the causes on the previous Labour Government – the debate is more important than cheap political point-scoring.

The truth is, the present Government did not invent the problem of youth unemployment, but their economic strategy has made it a lot worse. The Government is now set to borrow £158bn more than planned – because more people are out of work, claiming benefit rather than paying tax.

It is this misjudgement that has made the problem of youth unemployment a real crisis.

The new work programmes the Government boasted about are yet to have an impact.

All the figures show is higher youth unemployment returning, and a benefit bill we simply can’t afford.

On February 6, I am launching a report on youth unemployment by a commission that the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations approached me to chair last year.

We will be looking at the costs of youth unemployment to the country, both financially and the impact on society, and we will provide the Government with ideas to tackle the crisis.

It is so important that young people are given the support they need to get into work, and stay in work.

I look forward to reporting back with the ideas of our report.