Despite its own policies failing to tackle youth unemployment, the UK government has refused to use a £35.7 million EU funding boost for London to help guarantee anyone under the age of 25 a concrete offer of a job, training or further education.
The government rejected the EU Commission’s recommendation to use the Youth Employment Initiative funding for this purpose because it already had a plan to tackle youth unemployment in place, the much maligned Youth Contract scheme – an abject failure quietly dropped this summer almost a year earlier than planned.
The Government’s new plan? To bar childless 18 to 21-year olds from housing benefit and remove their entitlement to jobseeker’s allowance after six months of failing to find a job.
In an era of rising student debt and unsustainable housing costs, and a capital where vulnerable young people often lack the right qualifications, skills and emotional support to secure full time employment, this policy is both reckless and cruel.
Without a good quality apprenticeship, a guaranteed job, or high quality training and education, young people in London will continue to be left behind. A staggering 25% of the capital’s young people are out of work. The government must use this funding to help guarantee them a way into work.