The Government’s £1 billion Youth Contract scheme is to end a month early after failing to help 94% of young unemployed people it originally targeted.
The scheme, launched in 2012, provided wage incentives to companies as a way of encouraging them to employ young people and was scheduled to continue until September this year.
However, the Financial Times has reported that the deadline for employer applications is to be brought forward a month to August.
At the launch of the scheme, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that enough money would be made available to support businesses in employing 160,000 under 25’s on a six-month “job start”.
Despite the pledge from the Liberal Democrat leader, figures show that only around 10,000 young people had been helped into work through the scheme by November 2013. The figure represents just 6.25% of the 160,000 originally targeted by the Youth Contract scheme.
The Government argue that the low take-up was due to falling youth unemployment, which fell by 141,000 during the last year, according to official statistics.
A government spokesperson said:
“We now have record employment in this country, with the largest fall in youth unemployment since the 1980s.
“The Youth Contract has contributed to that by providing over 200,000 opportunities for young people, helping them to get the experience and training they need.
“As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, we’ll be re-investing the wage incentive money in other projects targeted at those young people who face the biggest challenges to getting into work, so everyone can share in the growing economy and improving jobs market.”
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves MP, said that with over 800,000 young people still looking for work, the Youth Contract had been as “abject failure”.
“Just two years after the launch of David Cameron’s flagship Youth Contract, the £1 billion programme is being abandoned by ministers”, Ms Reeves said.
“The Youth Contract has been an abject failure from start to finish. Ministers promised it would get every unemployed young person working or learning, but only a tiny fraction of Youth Contract employer wage incentives were ever used to get young people into work, and over 800,000 young people are still unemployed.
“The Government should introduce Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get young jobseekers off benefits and into work.”
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