Suffolk: Young jobless need support

Young politician’s call after report

A budding politician has called on the Government to do more to tackle youth unemployment.

Matthew Percy, who represents Suffolk in the UK Youth Parliament, was speaking after a charity warned more than one in five of the region’s young people think their prospects have been permanently damaged by the recession.

The Prince’s Trust said its youth index report revealed nearly a quarter (24%) of 16 to 25-year-olds in the East of England said they regularly feel down or depressed, while 22% think the economic crisis has permanently damaged their prospects.

Mr Percy said: “Whilst I don’t find these results surprising, I find them extremely concerning, particularly as the number of young people in Suffolk claiming JobSeeker’s Allowance (JSA) has increased from 380 in 2008 to 1,530 in 2012, while long-term youth unemployment in Suffolk and Essex has risen by 300% since the economic downturn.

“We are in tough economic times and changes are needed, but young people are paying the price for mistakes made by successive governments that they played no part in. It is important that the Government gets to grips with this and starts to do far more to address youth unemployment.

“More support needs to be given to young people as soon as they start to receive JSA, not after several months of being on it.

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“I will be making contact with the Prince’s Trust to try to work with them to improve the situation facing young people not only in Suffolk, but across the UK.”

Suffolk County Council is seeking to address the issue of long-term youth unemployment through its Raising the Bar initiative.

The scheme, which is being backed by the East Anglian Daily Times, is aimed at better identifying what skills Suffolk firms need and adapting teaching accordingly.

Figures for the number of people not in education, employment or training (Neets) in 2011 – the latest period for which figures are available – show both Suffolk and Essex are higher than the regional average.

Statistics released by the Department for Education show an estimated 6.4% of 16 to 18-year-olds in both Suffolk and Essex are Neets, compared with 6.0% in the East of England.

Richard Parish, chief executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, said the recession has eroded young people’s confidence and ambitions.

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