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Devolve powers locally to tackle youth unemployment – LGA

The true scale and number of youth employment across England and Wales is being hidden because figures focus on the unemployed and not young people who are only working part-time hours or are over-qualified for their current job, council leaders have warned.

While youth unemployment appears to be falling, according to government data, in reality there are 738,000 more young people that are unemployed or underemployed than in 2005, new analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed.

In fact, LGA estimates suggest that of the 2.5 million young people struggling to find enough work across England and Wales, only 340,000 are likely to find more work over the next four years, leaving 2.12 million still unemployed or underemployed by 2018.

Across the country, two in five young people are unemployed or underemployed, but in the worst affected areas this can rise to as much as half of all young people in their area. This is despite the fact that government invests around £15bn each year in young people. However, LGA says the centrally-run schemes mean that thousands of providers respond to complicated national funding rules, rather than focus on the needs of young people and local employers across England.

Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said:“We know that the government is investing a lot to help young people into employment. But councils know the reality of what is happening on the ground and our relationships with local people and businesses could be used much more than it is at the moment.

“We know how successful local organisations, such as councils, businesses and education providers, can be when working together and we would urge the government to use this to its advantage and give us a say in the schemes that are aiming to get young people into work.”

Stephen Timms, shadow employment minister,added that the report is further evidence of David Cameron's failure to tackle youth unemployment and under-employment.

(Image:Rui Vieira / PA Wire)

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