The government will take up one of the main themes from the report by Acevo’s youth unemployment commission, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, announced today.
David Miliband, the former foreign secretary and Labour leadership candidate, chaired the chief executives body’s Commission on Youth Unemployment, which reported in February.
One of its main ideas was the creation of youth unemployment hot spots in the worst-affected areas, where partnerships involving voluntary sector organisations would work together to tackle unemployment.
Speaking today, Clegg praised Miliband’s "excellent report" and said he was "very much struck by another insight from David's report: youth unemployment hot spots".
Clegg said the government would choose 20 local authority areas in Britain where it would bring forward eligibility for the wage subsidy from nine months of unemployment to six. The wage subsidy offers employers a payment of £2,275 for taking on a long-term unemployed person aged between 16 and 24.
"Youth unemployment is a national problem, but it is more acute in certain places," said Clegg. "Inner-city areas with high levels of disadvantage, rural communities where businesses are struggling to take people on, former mining towns at the sharp end of industrial decline. Whatever the reason, these are the toughest parts of the country to be young, down and out."
Clegg said he was less keen on the taskforce’s suggestion that young people should be offered a job guarantee after a year on the Work Programme.
"I can see why that kind of backstop has intuitive appeal," he said. "But I am more convinced by the wealth of evidence that shows it's better to get in earlier, helping these young men and women before lasting damage is done. Preventive treatment rather than an ambulance service, if you like."
Clegg said funding would be available from the end of July.
Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said the move was a welcome step forward but voluntary sector organisations should be involved in tackling the problem in the hot spots.
"The commission’s vision was for all key local players to step up to the mark and act to bring down youth unemployment in their areas – employers, charities, councils and not just the job centre," said Bubb.
"If we are to make a real difference in the hot spots identified by the Deputy Prime Minister, that kind of collaboration will be essential. In implementing this policy, Nick Clegg must ensure the potential of the voluntary sector and other key players is seized upon, and that Jobcentre Plus does not end up going it alone."
The youth unemployment hot spots are:
Kingston upon Hull
Redcar and Cleveland