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New scheme for youth employment

A new £1bn scheme has been announced to provide subsidised work and training placements for young people in the UK.

The Government has stated that this is new money, not a reallocation of existing funds; although critics are concerned it could come from squeezing tax credits.

The Youth Contract programme will give employers subsidies to create 410,000 work and training placements in England, Wales and Scotland. This includes a £50m project to help the 25,000 most disadvantaged 16 and 17 year old NEETs into work or apprenticeships.

More support will also be provided for young people at job centres, including extra time with advisors and a careers interview. Any young person who drops out of one of these projects will lose their benefits, to ensure sustained participation.

Deputy Prime Minister Clegg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It provides hope to the many, many young people who, at the moment, are feeling very anxious and uncertain about their future.”

Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “If the Government is slashing working families tax credits to pay the bill for this new scheme, it beggars belief. That tells you everything you need to know about how out of touch the Government is with the needs of our young people and squeezed middle families across Britain.

“Labour’s five-point plan for jobs includes a jobs fund that would create 100,000 jobs, but it would be paid for by a tax on bankers’ bonuses.”

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