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Conditional allowance should replace youth benefits – IPPR

Young NEETs should be denied unemployment benefits unless they are involved in “purposeful” training, or an “intensive” search for a job, a new report has proposed.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests that a new youth allowance of £56.80 a week should be introduced to replace existing benefits for 18-24 year olds not in education, employment or training. The allowance would be conditional on searching for a job and would be means-tested based on parental income.

A new youth guarantee would provide access to further education or vocational training, as well as intensive support to find work. If participants are still NEET after six months, they will be offered paid work experience and traineeships. If these offers are refused, the allowance will be stopped.

Large firms should offer apprenticeships to young people, based on the size of their business, or pay a youth levy towards the costs of training, the report added.

Graeme Cooke, the IPPR research director, said: “Young people who fail to attain a good education or make early connections to the labour market face a far greater risk of future periods of unemployment and low earnings. The number of NEETs in the UK is a scar on our nation and represents our generation's failure in its responsibility to the next. Our goal should be to effectively abolish NEETs, as they have successfully done in the Netherlands and Denmark.

“In contrast to previous initiatives and attempts at reform in this area – Connexions, the new deals, the Work Programme and the youth contract – this strategy aims to solve the fundamental failures of the school-to-work transition system, rather than making up for them.

“It creates the potential to drive improvements in further education and vocational training provision, alongside increasing employer engagement in the educational system.

“It includes those on inactive benefits and is built around practical activities, not merely advice and guidance. And it seeks to restructure the opportunities and obligations facing young people through deep institutional reform.”

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