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Wage subsidies scheme moved forward


Wage subsidies for firms taking on young workers are to be brought forward in areas with the highest levels of long-term youth unemployment.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that instead of coming in at nine months, the subsidy of £2,275 per person will start at six months.

The subsidy, equivalent to half the minimum wage, is part of the Government's £1 billion Youth Contract launched last autumn.

Mr Clegg will tell a CBI jobs summit in London today: "Three months can make all the difference.

"When you feel like your banging your head against a brick wall, when you live in an area where opportunities are already few and far between, another 12 weeks of rejection letters, of being cut off, of sitting at home waiting, worrying, that can seriously knock the stuffing out of you, making it extremely difficult to pick yourself up.

"So jobcentres will be able to make use of the subsidy before people are referred to the Work Programme, capitalising on their links with local employers, and they'll also intensify support, so more training, more regular coaching, spending more time with young people to knock a CV into shape or prep ahead of an interview."

CBI director general John Cridland will tell the summit that businesses and Government should do more to give people the skills and opportunities they need to get jobs.

"Youth unemployment has been rising since 2004, so it's clear that a return to growth alone will not be enough to tackle the underlying causes of the problem.

"Today's young people are entering a complex world, and are making choices from the age of 13 that will define what they will be able to do with their lives. We ask a lot more of them in making their way in the world than was asked of previous generations.

"The result is sharp divides between the haves and have-nots, and across generational lines. As employers, we can and should step up to give all of our young people the support they deserve."

The CBI said headway has been made on the Youth Contract, but added that the range of available initiatives must be made simpler for employers.

Mr Cridland will say: "The Youth Contract strikes the right balance, recognising the work each employer is doing for the wider community and giving them back more than National Insurance for the first part of employment.

"The next challenge is making it simple for firms to get involved. This is an area where the Youth Contract needs to be made more successful.

"There are 47 different employment initiatives for employers in England alone, which offer funding and support for businesses taking on and training young unemployed people. Busy firms need the whole process to be easier to navigate.

"Business will step up, but Government has to meet it halfway. If ever there was a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees, this is it.

"Confusion dilutes well-intentioned policies and the impact they should have and we cannot have our young people being denied life-changing opportunities."

Mr Clegg will publish a list of youth unemployment hotspots, covering 20 local local authority areas with the highest rates of long-term youth unemployment which will be targeted with "renewed urgency" by the Government.

The list is:

:: Blaenau Gwent

:: Hartlepool

:: South Tyneside

:: Merthyr Tydfil

:: Clackmannanshire

:: Redcar and Cleveland

:: Kingston upon Hull, City of

:: Middlesbrough

:: Wolverhampton

:: Sunderland

:: Sandwell

:: Walsall

:: Rotherham

:: North Ayrshire

:: Dudley

:: Birmingham

:: Caerphilly

:: West Dunbartonshire

:: Barnsley

:: Northumberland.