Many readers know I really enjoy my visits to youth clubs, schools and colleges across Newham. The enthusiasm of our young people is infectious and I get really excited listening to their views, hopes and plans for the future.
Recently, however, I find myself becoming increasingly worried what the future may hold and what opportunities people growing up in Newham today might have.
Long-term unemployment is at a 16-year high. In the first three months of 2012, one-in-six people aged 16 to 24 are not in education, employment or training. Department for Education figures show over 950,000 people that age fall into this category. In West Ham, youth unemployment has risen 213%.
That’s why it is complacent and totally incompetent for the Tory-led Government to give us a budget that fails to deliver jobs for young people.
With Britain falling into a ‘Made in Downing Street’ double-dip recession, young people are paying the price. This Government has failed to support them.
The Government say they introduced a work programme. It has helped only one-in-50 unemployed young people. In comparison, Labour’s future jobs fund was providing work for more than 41,000 young people. Unbelievably, this Government axed the scheme just months after they came to power.
Ed Miliband has said that, if the Labour Party was in Government, it would find real jobs for young people, offering real wages and a real chance for our youngsters.
In tough economic times, we need initiatives like this to support our young people into work. Ministers should stop helping their rich friends get richer and bring in Labour’s plan, funded by taxing bankers’ bonuses.
Our children should not be made to pay for the mistakes of David Cameron and his Government. Their failure to address youth unemployment is squandering a generation of talent.