Government extends youth unemployment pledge

The Government announced extra measures to tackle youth unemployment today by extending until March 2012 a guarantee of a job or training for every 18 to 24 year-old after six months out of work.

Nearly four million people have been helped out of unemployment in the last year, said the Chancellor, adding that the claimant count was lower than when Labour came to power in 1997.

"That has not happened by chance - it has happened because of choices we have made. We responded with an extra £5 billion to help people find work quicker. Our approach has made a difference."

Alistair Darling pledged that, for the next two years, no-one under the age of 24 will need to be unemployed for longer than six months without before being offered work or training.

Before today's announcement the pledge was due to run until March 2011.

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said: "This investment means we can extend the Future Jobs Fund and keep helping young people as the economy recovers. In the '80s, youth unemployment kept rising for four years after the recession ended.

"We cannot let that happen again. This time we have seen youth unemployment fall for the last four months as a result of the investment we have put into education places and support for people looking for work. We are determined to keep that support in place to help every young person get a good start to their working life."

The Chancellor announced that £450 million would be invested to extend the Future Jobs Fund and support the Young Person's Guarantee in 2011/12.

Ms Cooper added: "The £5 billion that we have invested through the recession has meant that unemployment is lower today than expected. This allows us to continue the support for young people as the economy recovers.

"Youth claimant unemployment has fallen for the last four months, and youth ILO unemployment has fallen for the last three months. There are over 200,000 more young people in full-time education than this time last year."

Ben Robinson, chairman of campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs, said: "This Budget offered very little for young people. Merely extending the young persons guarantee is a slap in the face for our generation. It was recently uncovered that the Government counts as a job four weeks on minimum wage.

"If this is the best that Westminster can come up with, it is no wonder young people are not interested in the general election."