COMMONS

MPs warn of gap in support for unemployed young people

21 December 2010

Unemployed young people will face a potential gap in the support available to help them find work following the Government’s decision to terminate the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) a year early, says a report published today (21 December 2010) by the Work and Pensions Committee

The report, Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund, examines the Coalition Government’s decision to terminate the £1 billion programme in March 2011 – a year earlier than planned – as part of its savings measures to address the UK budget deficit. 

The Committee is concerned that referrals to the FJF programme will cease by March 2011, and that unemployed young people will then be referred to the new Work Programme, which will not launch until June 2011.

The Report calls on the Government to ensure that: 

  • arrangements are in place to support young people during this interim period, especially in areas where the Work Programme may not be fully operational from June 2011; and
  • its increased funding for apprenticeships includes opportunities for young people who lack skills and experience and who face significant obstacles to finding work.

The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Ms Anne Begg, said:

“Young people, especially those who may be lacking skills, experience and confidence, need appropriate and sometimes intensive support to find work, otherwise they risk falling into long-term unemployment which is known to have a continued impact on their life chances. Providing this support is even more important during these difficult economic times.

The Committee is concerned about the potential gap in help for young unemployed people following the decision to end the Future Jobs Fund a year early. We are also concerned that the new Work Programme may not be fully available in all areas of the country from next June. Our report calls on the Government to address these issues and ensure that appropriate provision is in place for all unemployed young people.”

The Report also assesses the effectiveness of the FJF programme, which was introduced by the previous Government to respond to a rise in youth unemployment in 2008 and 2009. The programme funded temporary six-month jobs, primarily for 18-24 year olds who had been out of work for over six months.

Despite falling behind its initial target, the Future Jobs Fund created a significant number of temporary jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. There was evidence that the programme had a positive effect on young people, providing them with confidence and experience. However, the FJF was relatively expensive and it is still too early to assess whether it was successful in supporting unemployed young people in finding permanent jobs.

While the Committee accepts the Government’s need to make savings to address the public spending deficit, the report points out that insufficient information was available to allow the Government to make a decision to terminate the FJF based on the cost-effectiveness of the programme.

The report makes 23 recommendations to the Government, including the following:

  • DWP should conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the Future Jobs Fund and publish the results.
  • DWP must ensure proper transitional arrangements are in place to support young unemployed people in the interim period between the final participants starting FJF jobs in March 2011 and the start of the Work Programme in June 2011. 
     
  • DWP must ensure that Jobcentre Plus offices have the necessary resources to support individuals during the job application process.
     
  • The Government should consider how it can encourage more employers to open up their recruitment processes to young people who lack experience but who can make a valuable contribution.
     
  • The Department should clarify the EU state aid rules around wage subsidies to tackle unemployment and publish a simple guide to encourage more private sector involvement within these rules. 
     
  • Providers of the new Work Programme must receive sufficient incentives to deliver appropriate support for longer-term unemployed young people, as well as those people who may be easier to place in work.
  • The Government’s increased funding for apprenticeships must include opportunities, where appropriate, for longer-term unemployed young people.

The report is available from the following links:

1st report - Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund

PDF version 1st report - Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund 

Purchase title 1st report - Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund

HC 472 | Published 21 December 2010 |

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