Tuesday, April 8, 2014

News: Rotherham MP continues to call for more action on youth unemployment

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With the recent Budget focusing on pensioners and savers, Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, has made a plea to the Chancellor to start taking the youth unemployment crisis seriously.

During the recent Budget, the Chancellor George Osbourne stated that the Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE) scheme, is being providing with an extra £85m in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 for over 100,000 grants to employers. The government states that 1.6 million people started apprenticeships this Parliament, with advanced level apprenticeship starts up 137% between 2009-10 and 2012-13.

The number of apprenticeship vacancies being advertised has increased but figures released by the Government's Skills Funding agency in February showed that nationally there were 510,000 apprenticeship starts in the 2012/13 academic year, 10,000 less than the number of starts in the 2011/12.

With reports of over 730,000 more young people out of work under David Cameron's Government than in 2005, Sarah spoke of the grim picture of almost a million young people still not in education, employment or training.

During a debate on the Budget, the Labour MP said: "Allow me to paint a picture of the crisis as it stands in my constituency. The census showed that over 50 per cent of young people in Rotherham are either unemployed or economically inactive.

"If you compare the number of young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in my constituency under this Government, with the equivalent in the last four years of the Labour Government, it has increased dramatically.

"I was flabbergasted to find out that it hadn't increased twenty per cent… or even fifty per cent, but by an incredible seven hundred and sixty per cent.

"A seven hundred and sixty per cent increase in young people in Rotherham claiming for a year under this Government; you couldn't even make it up.

"That figure alone is enough to make me ask what the Chancellor has been doing to support unemployed young people in Rotherham in the last four years. What hope has he offered them in this budget?

"The answer is clear, very little indeed."

Speaking after the debate Sarah (pictured, centre) said: "I was delighted to be given the chance to speak out for young people in Rotherham today, as I am so shocked to see the increase in young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance.

"If you compare the average number of young job seekers claiming for a year under the Tory Government, it is 760 per cent higher, compared to the average number at the end of the Labour Government.

"I am glad that the Chancellor has committed to increasing the number of new apprenticeships available to 100,000, but that is a drop in the ocean compared to what is really needed when 12 young people apply for every position."

Figures from the National Office for Statistcs show that the number of young people (aged 24 and under) claiming JSA in Rotherham for over 12 months was around 20 in 2008. This peaked at 300 in 2010 before schemes such as the Future Jobs Fund helped to bring it down to around 140. It currently stands at over 500.

Under Labour's Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, every young person out of work in Rotherham for more than 12 months will be given a paid starter job which they will have to take up or lose their benefits.

Images: Sarah Champion

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