Areas in the north of England, Scotland and south Wales to benefit from accelerated introduction of youth contract.
Clegg will say that the problem of youth unemployment is a “human tragedy” which defines “who we are” as a society when he announces the extra help in a speech to the employers’ organisation, the CBI.
“How we help these young men and women says something, says everything, about who we are,” says an advance copy of the speech. “These are our children and they are in their hour of need.”
The Liberal Democrat leader is due to say that the government’s youth contract scheme will be speeded up in these areas, cutting the time a person of 18-24 has to be unemployed to qualify for help in getting a job from nine to six months. Employers will then get more than £2,000 to help pay their wages for six months, although the company still has to contribute at least as much again.
The national £1bn scheme to help 160,000 young unemployed was announced in April, so it is too soon to assess its success in helping people get permanent jobs. However, a spokesman for Clegg said: “Hopefully, they see this person has been productive, they have spent a lot of time training them and they’ll give them a job.”
The first 20 areas to benefit from the reduced qualification time will be Blaenau Gwent, Hartlepool, South Tyneside, Merthyr Tydfil, Clackmannanshire, Redcar and Cleveland, Kingston upon Hull, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton, Sunderland, Sandwell, Walsall, Rotherham, North Ayrshire, Dudley, Birmingham, Caerphilly, West Dunbartonshire, Barnsley and Northmberland.
“The sensible thing, if it works, is to extend it out the next 20 or 40 [areas], rather than say it should be the same nationally across the board,” said Clegg’s spokesman.
Clegg will claim the recovery of the economy will create more jobs, but this alone will not be enough to tackle the “long-term, structural” problem of youth unemployment, which has been rising since 2004. The government needs to provide “targeted support to the youngsters who struggle to break into the workplace”, he will say.