The third of the three policy areas we are focusing on is the welfare system. We need a welfare system which is much more helpful and accessible to young people. At the moment we spend billions of pounds of public money on Jobseekers Allowance and other benefits for unemployed young people yet we don’t get enough for it. Jobcentres are in many cases unhelpful and inaccessible to young people; there are often too many different organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors who have some responsibility for tackling youth unemployment; and government measures like the Youth Contract do not seem to do enough to tackle the problem.
Worst of all, according to the Office of National Statistics, hundreds of thousands of young people have been unemployed for a year or more. This is a big problem as the longer a young person is out of work, the more it costs the taxpayer in benefits and the more it hurts the young person in the long-term in terms of sapping confidence, damaging physical and mental health and progressively reducing the likelihood of getting a job.
We are currently consulting on ways to improve the welfare system. We are open to all points of view and would welcome any thoughts or suggestions on reforming our welfare system.