Wage subsidies scheme moved forward

Wage subsidies for firms taking on young workers are to be brought forward in areas with the highest levels of long-term youth unemployment.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that instead of coming in at nine months, the subsidy of £2,275 per person will start at six months.

The subsidy, equivalent to half the minimum wage, is part of the Government's £1 billion Youth Contract launched last autumn.

Mr Clegg will tell a CBI jobs summit in London: "Three months can make all the difference. When you feel like your banging your head against a brick wall, when you live in an area where opportunities are already few and far between, another 12 weeks of rejection letters, of being cut off, of sitting at home waiting, worrying, that can seriously knock the stuffing out of you, making it extremely difficult to pick yourself up.

"So jobcentres will be able to make use of the subsidy before people are referred to the Work Programme, capitalising on their links with local employers, and they'll also intensify support, so more training, more regular coaching, spending more time with young people to knock a CV into shape or prep ahead of an interview."

Mr Clegg will publish a list of youth unemployment hotspots, covering 20 local local authority areas with the highest rates of long-term youth unemployment which will be targeted with "renewed urgency" by the Government.

The list includes Blaenau Gwent, Hartlepool, South Tyneside, Merthyr Tydfil, Clackmannanshire, Redcar and Cleveland, Kingston upon Hull, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton, Sunderland, Sandwell, Walsall, Rotherham, North Ayrshire, Dudley, Birmingham, Caerphilly, West Dunbartonshire, Barnsley and Northumberland.

CBI director general John Cridland will tell the summit that businesses and Government should do more to give people the skills and opportunities they need to get jobs.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: "Much too little and much too late. This is a sticking plaster solution for what is now a national crisis.

"Youth unemployment has now been over one million since last August. Nick Clegg needs to bite the bullet and join Labour's demand for a bank bonus tax to finance a real jobs guarantee for over 100,000 young people."