SPECIAL measures to target youth unemployment are to be introduced on Wearside by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Nick Clegg MP made the announcement today as he declared that securing jobs for young people was the most pressing item on his agenda.
He has identified youth unemployment hot spots across the country, which includes Sunderland, where 9.5 per cent of all 18-24-year-olds are on jobseekers allowance.
He said: “I can announce today that we will be helping young people in Sunderland with renewed urgency. For a simple reason, these are the young people who are hardest to reach, in the labour markets that are hardest to crack and they cannot be made to wait.“
Last autumn, the Coalition Government announced the launch of the Youth Contract, a £1billion package to try to get young people into lasting jobs in the private sector.
The scheme allows employers to get financial support which covers a young person’s National Insurance contributions for a year when they have been unemployed for nine months.
But this has now been shortened to six months and it is estimated that it will help up to 600 young people in Sunderland straightaway.
Mr Clegg said: “When you live in an area where opportunities are already few and far between, another 12 weeks of rejection letters, of being cut off, sitting at home waiting and worrying can seriously knock the stuffing out of you, making it extremely difficult to pick yourself up.”
In his speech today the Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the work that South Shields MP David Miliband has done, who in a report first highlighted the case of unemployment hot spots.
He said: “We identify them as the 20 local authority areas with the highest rates of long-term youth unemployment and the lowest rates of return to work.
“So in these places we’re bringing the wage subsidy forward. Instead of coming in at nine months, it will come in at six. At this stage, three months can make all the difference.”
Hot spots of youth unemployment in the North East set to benefit from the plans also include Hartlepool, South Tyneside, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Northumberland.