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LGA urges new approach to cutting youth joblessness

The LGA is co-hosting a summit tomorrow on tackling youth unemployment and disengagement, as new research suggests a new local approach could cut the number of young people out of work by 20% in three years.

The LGA research suggests the new approach could save £1.25bn a year for the public finances, and contribute £15bn to the economy over 10 years.

Representatives from councils, colleges, youth work, business, Jobcentre Plus and the Youth Parliament will attend the town hall summit in Reading tomorrow to discuss what could be done.

The LGA report, ‘Hidden Talents II’, provides clear evidence that personalised local approaches are most effective in reducing the number young people out of work and training, but it says that such schemes are undermined by national funding, performance and procurement systems driven by Whitehall.

The current system has too much bureaucracy, duplication and central government control, it adds, with 33 different national schemes across 13 age boundaries.

Cllr David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Youth unemployment is a worrying trend for us all, particularly long-term youth unemployment which has doubled since 2008 and continues to grow. For young people, being unemployed for long periods of time can have scarring effects that can last a lifetime, but the ramifications go even further, having a huge impact on our local economies and wider plans for growth.

“All the evidence in this report points to the success that local organisations, such as councils, businesses and education providers, can achieve when working together to ensure young people are given the very best chances to get into work or training, but this is being hampered by successive centrally-driven Government approaches. This has long been a major frustration for councils, who know their young people in their area and have a responsibility to look after their welfare.”

“We are putting a new offer to Government which, if implemented, would see local government help to reduce the number of young people out of work by 20%, saving the taxpayer millions of pounds in the process and helping inject £15bn into the economy over a decade through increased productivity.”

The LGA says councils and their partners should:

  • Become the default commissioners of all programmes seeking to get the most disengaged young people up to 24 years old back into work training and education
  • Lead in setting local and sub-regional priorities for 16 to 24 skills provision, driven by employer demand in local labour markets, and linked to pre-16 provision
  • Co-design, with Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers, joint packages and employment programmes for hardest to reach young people, effectively bringing together local and national programmes
  • Commission wage subsidies announced as part of the Youth Contract, engaging small and medium enterprises and targeting young people with most to gain from public subsidies.

For more detail from the report, including case studies from the tri-borough Whole Place Community Budgeting pilot, between Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster councils, Hertfordshire County Council, Lewisham Council, the Work Redbridge Partnership, and ‘Cornwall Works’, see here.

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