New research reveals 'huge inequalities' in life chances


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The Independent Online

The chances of young people finding a job or going to university depend on where they were born, revealing “huge inequalities” across the country, according to new research.

A study for the Nominet Trust charity revealed a "postcode lottery" for the life chances of youngsters.

The data showed that young people in Erdington, Birmingham, were more than three times as likely to be unemployed as youngsters in South Kensington, London.

Teenagers in Harrogate were seven times as likely to go to an elite university than their counterparts in Bradford, just 20 miles away, said the report, published ahead of new unemployment figures today.

Annika Small, chief executive of the Nominet Trust, said: "The powerful data proves what we've known for a long time - the postcode lottery is not a myth but in fact a harsh and very bleak reality for Britain's young people.

"We'd urge policy makers, youth workers and other professionals working with young people to take note of the fact that our current system is failing today's youth, and that a fresh approach is required."

Professor Danny Dorling of the University of Sheffield, one of the researchers behind the report, said: "There are huge inequalities between young peoples' life chances that increasingly depend on where they are born. These inequalities are currently growing."

Meanwhile the CBI called for a number of measures to help improve the Government's Work Programme, including moves to encourage self employment through the scheme.

The business group said access to the programme should be made more straightforward, while there should be increased awareness among employers.

Katja Hall, the CBI's chief policy director, said: "Although the fundamentals of the Work Programme are strong, targeted action is needed to ensure it fulfils its potential.

"It has faced challenges over the last year, but we cannot let it be buffeted by events or become a target for political point scoring.

"With unemployment high, it's essential that this scheme delivers for jobseekers, employers and the taxpayer.

"Access to the scheme needs to be improved, especially for those hardest to help, and partnerships strengthened across the board, including better connecting employers and providers in a local area."

A study by the IPPR think-tank showed that unemployment had increased in the north of England by almost 100,000 in the past year.

Long-term unemployment had risen to a 16-year high of 886,000, while 1.4 million people were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job.

A separate report by Legal & General found that workers were feeling more positive about their job security.

A survey of more than 3,000 workers found that only 3% believed they were at risk of becoming unemployed.

More than half of those questioned said they would consider starting their own business or becoming self-employed if they lost their job.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: "This Government is working hard to help people back into work and for the past three months we've seen unemployment coming down, but we're not complacent for a minute.

"Through the Work Programme we're helping the long-term unemployed into jobs and the £1 billion Youth Contract is creating nearly 500,000 opportunities to help young people get a job through work experience places and wage incentives to cut the cost of taking on new staff."