Thousands of unemployed young people across the North East could be stripped of benefits under tough plans in the Government’s Queen’s Speech.
David Cameron insisted the crackdown was designed to end youth unemployment, as he set out his plans in the House of Commons.
But Labour MPs said the plans effectively meant young people would be forced to work for as little as less than £2 an hour – payment far below the minimum wage.
The North East has the highest youth unemployment rate in England.
Office figures show 21.4 per cent of young people aged 18 to 24 are unemployed.
The figures cover people who are “economically active”, which means they are in a job or looking for work. Full-time students are not included.
This is a higher proportion than in any other part of England. It’s also higher than Scotland or Wales, and roughly equal to the Northern Ireland figure of 21.8 per cent.
By contrast, the unemployment rate for people aged 18 to 24 in the south east is 11.4 per cent. And in the West Midlands, it is 16.1 per cent.
Official figures also show that 4,000 people in the North East aged 18 to 24 have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for six months or longer.
But under Government plans, anyone aged 21 or under will lose the right to this benefit – and be put on a new “youth allowance” instead.
They’ll get the same amount of money as before, up to £57.90 a week, but if they are unemployed for six months then they will be given compulsory community work such as making meals for the elderly or working for local charities – and they’ll lose the right to claim benefits if they refuse.
If they will have to work 30 hours a week as expected, that would be a payment of £1.93 for each hour worked, well below the minimum wage of £5.13 for people age 18 to 20 and £6.50 for those older.
The Government says it plans to prepare young people for work and will create 200,000 new apprenticeships in the North East.
And Conservatives point out that the number of people aged 18 to 24 in the North East actually in work has risen by 13,000 over the past year.
David Cameron told the House of Commons: “One of the most important things we can do is give young people the chance of an apprenticeship and the chance of work.
“What we have done is expand apprenticeships and uncapped university places, so that there is no cap on aspiration in our country.
“We now want to go further by saying that every young person should be either earning or learning.
“Leaving school, signing on, getting unemployment benefit, getting housing benefit and opting for a life out of work—that is no choice at all, and that is why we will legislate accordingly.”
And Conservative MP Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, said:
“This Bill will provide assistance to young people to earn and learn, and give them the skills which they need to have a long term future in employment.
“We need to address the skills gap and using apprenticeships will really make a difference to do that.”
Labour Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said:
“If young people are expected to work in order to get benefits then they should be entitled to the minimum wage.
“To tell them to work for £2 an hour is ridiculous. We have legislation which says there is a minimum wage in this country and that should be the minimum level people can expect.”
Conservatives will face a battle over plans to stop people aged 18 to 21 claiming housing benefit – with Labour MPs and other critics warning it will put young people who are forced to leave home because of abuse in danger.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 30 May 2015
More than one in three businesses who took on North East school leavers rated their recruits as unprepared for work, a new survey has found.
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills, which is part of the Department for Business, asked organisations who took on 17 to 18-year-olds how they felt their new employees shaped up.
More than one in three employers in this region said the teens were “poor” or “very poor” – almost 20% more than the national average, and placing Newcastle and Sunderland behind the likes of Liverpool and Manchester.
When the question was asked of 16-year-old recruits, the proportion of dissatisfied firms rose to 38% in Newcastle.
A lack of experience of working life was the top reason cited by the city’s employers as the quality lacking from their 17 to 18 year old workers.
> Huh ? They’ve just left school ! How much experience do you expect them to have ?
That was followed by a poor attitude or personality, and a lack of the required skills.
> Lack of skillls ? Well, aren’t you supposed to teach them those skills ?
Poor attitude or personality ? Yeah, are you really the best judge of that, Mr Boss ? Not on the available evidence…
In response both the North East Chamber of Commerce and regional representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses renewed calls for greater links between industry and schools.
“There’s been a real debate for a long while about work readiness, and not just about school leavers, but about people leaving colleges as well,” said Ted Salmon, chairman of the FSB in the North East.
“Sometimes basic things are lacking – it’s not just about maths and English, but about the ability to interact with people, to write business letters or emails, and to get to work on time.
“And we can debate over what subjects are right to help people into work – but it needs to be part of a wider debate between business and education over how we can encourage more interaction.”
> What they really want is a conveyor-belt of disposable, low-wage slaves that already have all the skills even though they don’t know what job they might be doing.
Mr Salmon expressed concern at the apparent difficulties of speaking to schools in a non enterprise day context, with teachers nervous that closer ties with business could mean extra work for themselves or their pupils on top of the usual curriculum.
“Half the battle is showing teachers how what they already do can relate to business,” said Mr Salmon, “and just to even start that is so difficult because there are so many league tables and exam pressures.
“But when you go in and see the children on an enterprise day you see how switched on they are by it – so we need to break down that barrier and the frustrating lack of communication between schools and business.”
> Perhaps some teachers can see all too clearly where its all leading…
NECC director of policy, Ross Smith, agreed. “Links between education and business are essential to ensure we are producing young people who are ready to fill roles within the North East labour market and are comfortable in the working environment,” he said.
> 16-hour a week cleaning jobs ? Zero-hour contracts ? That seems to be mainly what’s on offer in my job searches within the North East labour market.
“Likewise, we must take the fear out of employing, training or simply giving experience to young people. According to our own 2014 Workforce Survey, businesses see this as costly, time-consuming and restrictive – this must be addressed.
> Or they could see it as an investment in the future. They always used to. But now, of course, its anything for a quick profit, including the workforce.
“A great deal of progress has been made in recent years, but we must continue to work hard if we are to make significant in-roads into addressing regional youth unemployment and potential skills shortages in key sectors in our region.”
> No, a great deal of progress has not been made – we’ve gone backwards, so that now everyone is expected to be fully trained before they start the job.
NECC’s own 2014 Workforce Survey actually painted a bleaker picture of what the region’s firms think of teenagers, with almost three quarters of employers reporting that sixth formers and college leavers were unprepared for work.
> Probably not as bleak a picture as what teenagers think of employers !
Just over half also complained that graduates were not ready – with the main reason given being a lack of work experience.
> Because they’ve just left school ! Good grief, it makes you wonder about the idiots running these companies… or perhaps not.
However, almost a third of the businesses surveyed admitted they don’t offer work experience placements to school pupils, with many saying that placements were too costly and time consuming, or that the requirements set by schools and colleges were too restrictive.
However 52% said they current offer apprenticeships for 16 to 24 year-olds .
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Dec 2014
A future Tory Government would slash benefits for around 100,000 struggling families and young people to fund more low-paid apprenticeships, Prime Minister David Cameron will pledge on Monday.
Cameron will say that he plans to deliver 3 million more apprenticeships by cutting the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 a year.
The plan would affect 70,000 families in receipt of either in-work or out-of-work benefits and tax credits, saving around £135 million a year. This will include 40,000 households who have so far managed to escape welfare cuts, according to Conservative Party figures released to the Press Association (PA).
Figures released at the end of last year (December 2013) show that for the first time in recorded history more low-paid working households are living on or below the breadline than those who are out-of-work. More cuts to in-work benefits could further exacerbate this issue and cost the Tories votes at the next general election.
The Tories would also remove Housing Benefit entitlement from 18-21 year-olds, affecting 30,000 young people and saving an estimated £120 million a year.
SKY News reports that Mr Cameron has the backing of a number of large firms including Nestle, Airbus, Ford, Balfour Beatty, Fujitsu and the National Grid.
“Because of difficult decisions we will make on welfare, we will deliver three million apprenticeships by 2020. This is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain.
“It will help give us the skills to compete with the rest of the world. And it will mean more hope, more opportunity, and more security for our young people, helping them get on in life and make something of themselves.
“We have already doubled apprenticeships this Parliament. We will finish the job in the next and end youth unemployment.”
Cameron had previously told the Andrew Marr show:
“All the evidence is the cap is too loose, particularly in some parts of the country, so bringing it down saves money, will mean more families getting into work, and what I want to see – the plan we have for Britain – is to spend less money on welfare and more on helping people into work.”
However, the Tories relentless attack against the young and low-paid has come under criticism from their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.
Leader Nick Clegg used his speech at the Liberal Democrats annual conference to attack the Tories for taking an “axe” to the welfare budget, without showing any “regard for the impact on people’s lives”.
His words will anger millions of people affected by welfare cuts his party helped (voted) to introduce – including the cap on benefits.
Currently the minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £2.73 an hour for 16-18 year-olds. The same hourly rate applies to 19 year-olds who are in the first year of their apprenticeship.
Apprentices over the age of 19, or who have completed their first year, are paid at least the national minimum wage for their age group, with some businesses willing to pay more – if you’re lucky.
The national minimum wage rate for 16-18 year-olds currently stands at £3.79 an hour, £1.06 higher than that for apprentices. Those aged 18-20 receive a minimum wage rate of £5.13 an hour, rising to £6.50 for the over 20’s.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 20 Oct 2014
Youth unemployment in South Tyneside has increased for the second month in a row, latest figures have revealed.
The total number of people aged 18 to 24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in September was 1,230, compared with 1,165 in August.
This followed a steady fall in youth unemployment in the borough in previous months.
However, a labour expert revealed that the JSA count among young jobseekers in South Shields is 30 per cent down on the same period in 2013, and predicted seasonal and general employment opportunities will see youth employment falling in South Tyneside.
The total claimant count for JSA across the borough has remained largely unchanged, at 4,545 last month, compared with the August figure of 4,547.
A total of 2,875 men and 1,670 women are now unemployed and claiming benefits in South Tyneside.
The percentage of the local working age population who claimed benefits remained unchanged at 4.8 per cent.
Steve McCall, employment engagement manager for the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus, based in Newcastle, said:
“There are hundreds of jobs out there and employers are wanting to recruit, particularly in contact centres and in retail.
> Yes, I saw one today – working in the stores at South Shields’ Next store – 10 hours a week. Who is that any good to ?
Take all these short hours and zero hours jobs out of the equastion and what’s left ?
“I would hope the overall jobless figure in South Tyneside will continue to come down and employers are coming to us with more confidence and requesting help with vacancies.
“The JSA count in South Shields is down 30 per cent on the same period last year and with the Youth Contract and seasonal work, I would expect that figure to fall.”
Mr McCall added that while there is traditionally a spike in youth unemployment after the festive period, he said more employers are seeking to retain temporary staff.
Coun John Anglin, lead member for regeneration and economy at South Tyneside Council, said:
“The number of people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance has fallen again, as it has done every month this year. This is great news, but we will continue to work hard to reduce it further.
“We’ve seen a slight rise in youth unemployment, which is reflective of seasonal variations due to school leavers and university holidays.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 16 Oct 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron has been given an open invite to visit the region’s young unemployed to stop him labelling them benefits scroungers.
The Tory leader announced plans to ‘combat’ youth unemployment by stopping benefits after six months for those aged 18 to 21 to wean them off a life of ‘dependency’.
While it played well to the gallery at the Conservative party conference, it left young people at the sharp end angry at how it seems to portray them.
Katie McLaren, 21, graduated with a degree in Performing Arts three months ago from Northumbria University and has still to find work.
“I’m trying to get on the employment ladder, be an adult, but there aren’t a lot of work opportunities out there,” she said. “Believe me I’m trying.
“Why doesn’t he speak to the young unemployed to find out what the situation is like? I think there’s a lack of understanding between the south and the north as well as politicians with the people they are supposed to represent. If he wants to come up here he is more than welcome.”
The region has one of the worst jobless rates for young people in the UK, running at 25% or about one in four.
And the figure for all ages in the North East is about 10%, the worst in the UK by a considerable margin.
Neil Burke of Youth Focus North East, a charity which aims to improve the life of young people across the region, said: “There might be lots of jobs in London but there aren’t loads of jobs up here, as the figures show.”
Speaking about Mr Cameron’s proposal, he said: “What about young people who have come from vulnerable circumstances?
“They can be socially isolated and getting them out of the house to train them can take four months which could be great work. And then have them find work in two months?
“It’s a one-size fits all policy. Many might have been let down by the education system and haven’t left school with the skills to get a job and sometimes it can take more than six months to get them ready for work. It seems to me the six month figure has just been plucked out of the air.”
Under the plan, unemployed 18 to 21 year olds will be given six months to find work or training before their jobseekers allowance (JSA) is withdrawn, and replaced with a ‘Youth Allowance’ which would be set at the same level as JSA, £57.35.
This would be time-limited of six months, after which young people will have to take an apprenticeship, a traineeship or do community work – such as cleaning up local parks – to earn their benefits.
Young mum Amy Ormston, 22, from Gateshead dropped out of college to have daughter Mya. She is now training to become cabin crew.
She said: “I don’t agree with the plans to cut benefits at all. If it happened to me how would I be able to feed Mya?
“There aren’t jobs but there is plenty of voluntary work going round – how many of those lead to a permanent job?
“He is tarring young people with the same brush. Stigmatising them as if all we want to do is just to be on benefits.”
Lizzie Crowley of the Work Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation providing research on work, said similar schemes have been introduced in the US and Australia and have not been successful – unless the intention was to save money on benefits payments.
She said: “People have just left the system before the time period is up. It can lead to homelessness or relying on your parents even more. That’s people who have stable family relations.”
Katie said she has family to go back to in Hartlepool. However she added: “I don’t think that would be fair on them and I’d feel a failure if I had to.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01 Oct 2014
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.
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.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 25 July 2014
Two North-East towns have the highest youth unemployment in the country, a report claims.
Middlesbrough and Stockton were ranked top of a youth unemployment table prepared by The Work Foundation.
The Lancaster University-based organisation’s report, The Geography Of Youth Unemployment – A Route Map For Change, claims that unemployment rates for 16 to 24-year-olds in the two towns is more than 25 per cent.
In contrast, York was found to have the second lowest youth unemployment in the country at less than 13 per cent.
The study recommends that town and cities reduce their rates by ensuring that local services work together more effectively.
The paper argues that without effective, targeted action from national and local government, businesses, and educators, a generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.
Commenting on the paper, Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said: “Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job.”
Commenting on the report, Stockton Council leader Councillor Bob Cook said it was a “nonsense that the youth unemployment rate in Stockton was the highest in the country”.
“That said, we know that the current economic climate has made it tough for young people to get a foothold on the career ladder.
“We are determined to help which is why our children and young people select committee is in the final stages of an in depth scrutiny review looking at how education and business can work together to make sure that learning provision matches local industry need.”
Source – Northern Echo 08 April 2014
The jobless total has fallen again in South Tyneside, reversing last month’s upward trend.
A total of 5,661 people in the borough claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in February, compared with 5,826 the previous month.
This means 165 fewer people on the dole locally, reducing the percentage of the local working age population claiming JSA from 6.1 per cent to 6.0 per cent.
> Wow ! 0.1% ! Though I notice there’s no mention of whether that figure includes those sanctioned… I suspect it does.
However, youth unemployment across the borough remains stubbornly high, with 1,500 people aged between 18 and 24 claiming JSA.
And the youth unemployment figure in South Tyneside is 11.6 per cent, compared with eight per cent for the North East as a whole.
Last month’s rise in the local claimant count was blamed on the end of seasonal employment over the festive period.
Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “This is welcome news to see the jobless figures reduce for last month, getting everything back on track after the recent seasonal rise, due to the end of hundreds of temporary festive contracts.
“The council is continuing to work closely with its partners to generate practical and informative opportunities for both apprentices and jobseekers in the borough.”
Across the North East, unemployment stands at 125,000, a fall of 8,000 over the last quarter, while the regional claimant count is 70,300, a reduction of 1,700 between January and February.
Mark Stephenson, manager of policy and research for the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “The North East has improved on all measures within the labour market between November 2013 and January 2014, which is to be welcomed.
“This continues an upward trend, in particular for employment and claimant count figures, which have been heading steadily in the right direction for several quarters.”
But he added: “However, the North East unemployment rate is still the highest in the country, which has to be a focus for policy makers moving forward.”
Nationally, unemployment in the UK fell by 63,000 to 2.33 million in the three months to January 2014.
Source – Shields Gazette, 20 March 2014
You know, if the Greens really got their act together, they could clean up at the next general election. Who else is left for us to vote for ?
Labour’s workfare plus a sandwich scheme is no better than the Tory’s current workfare and is every bit as badly thought out.
Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee takes the worst elements of almost all previous welfare-to-work style schemes and has rolled them all into one giant and hugely expensive fuck up. Possibly hundreds of thousands of people are to be forced to work in part-time temporary jobs with wages pegged at the minimum wage or face their benefits will be stopped.
Many people in these compulsory jobs may find themselves worse off then someone on current Tory workfare schemes. The jobs will only be for 25 hours a week, meaning those over 21 will receive just £156.70 under current rates. For the vast majority of claimants, who have rent to pay, this is likely to…
View original post 618 more words
North East unemployment has dropped slightly but still remains the UK’s highest.
The latest unemployment count shows 130,000 on unemployment benefit in the region, down 3,000 over the last three month period. But at 10% the rate was nearly 2% higher than elsewhere in the UK.
> It says something about the true state of affairs when, even after all the sanctioning and manipulation of figures, they still can’t get the NE figures down.
This morning employment minister Esther McVey said: “With the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the North East falling in every month of the last year, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term plan to build a stronger, more secure economy is helping businesses create jobs and get people into work.
“Nationally, employment continues to increase and youth unemployment continues to fall, which means more people have the security of a regular wage and can plan for their future.”
Across the UK unemployment continued to fall and a record number of women are in work, new figures have revealed.
The jobless total was 2.34 million in the final quarter of last year, down by 125,000, giving a rate of 7.2%.
The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance dipped to 1.22 million in January, down by 27,000 – the 15th consecutive monthly fall.
More women are in work than at any time since records began in 1971, at just over 14 million, today’s data from the Office for National Statistics showed.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “It’s good to see another fall in unemployment. Our Long Term Economic Plan means more people with the security of a wage and a chance in life.”
But Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Sadly, today’s fall in the total number of unemployed masks the scourge of under-employment, which is growing at an alarming rate across the country.
“Under-employment is now a bitter reality for millions of struggling families across the UK.
“Too many people are stuck in minimum-wage jobs, on zero-hours contracts and part-time work when they are desperate to go full-time.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 19 Feb 2014