The Independent London Newspaper

Young jobless tally is now ‘mind-boggling’

MP tells minister: Blame the cuts not the Eurozone

Published: November 18, 2011
by ANDREW JOHNSON

LONG-TERM youth unemployment has rocketed to “mind-boggling” figures in Islington in the past 12 months.

Shocking figures released on Wednesday came as it was revealed that nationally more than a million young people aged between 18-24 are claiming jobseekers’ allowance.

According to the figures gathered by the Labour Party, the number of young people in the 18-24 age range out of work in Islington South – MP Emily Thornberry’s constituency – and claiming benefits for more than six months in September rose by a massive 61 per cent, from 165 to 265.

In Islington North – Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency – the youth unemployment rate is up by 50 per cent from 140 to 210.

The figures were revealed as a report into youth employment nationally showed that those out of work in the 16-24 age bracket had reached record levels, breaching the million mark for the first time since comparable records began in 1992. The rate of 21.9 per cent is also the highest ever.

Employment minister Chris Grayling blamed the crisis in the Eurozone for the grim statistics. But Mr Corbyn poured scorn on this explanation and pointed instead at government cuts.

“I’m very angry about this,” he said. “Young people are facing the same levels of unemployment as they faced in the 1980s. If young people can’t find jobs they become depressed and stop trying.

“Chris Grayling is mistaken. This is a specific result of the government’s cuts. They have cut education maintenance allowances [which enable pupils to stay in sixth form], increased university fees and removed hundreds of low-grade civil service jobs which were entry-level jobs for young people.”

Labour Town Hall leader Catherine West also laid the blame at the door of government cuts and called on London’s Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson to tackle the issue.

“These figures are mind-boggling,” she said. “The London Devel­opment Agency [which helps to promote business and employment] has been abolished. I understand that the Mayor has only met with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions twice, and didn’t discuss employment at either of the meetings. The lead politician in the capital is not talking about employment for young people.

“Unemployment is unaccountably high and we will be debating it in the council next month.”

She added that the council was promoting apprenticeships.

“We are trying to do what we can,” she said. “We’re trying to get young people from non-traditional backgrounds into the [elite group of] Russell universities, the City firm Slaughter and May are paying for a post at Centre Point, we’re encouraging businesses to take on young people with apprenticeships, mentoring or work experience.

“We’re making the case for young people during Business Enterprise Week, this week, at the Business Design Centre. There is a real role for the council, but it has to be part of a wider strategy.”

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