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Long-term youth unemployment has rocketed, says TUC

Long-term youth unemployment in England has increased by 23% since the Government came to power in May 2010, according to Trade Union Congress (TUC) analysis published today.

The TUC research also shows that as long-term unemployment has risen, Government support for unemployed young people has fallen by 26% following the replacement of the previous government's Youth Guarantee (which included the Future Jobs Fund) with the new Youth Contract.

According to the TUC study, the Government will spend £98 million less this year on support for jobless young people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) in England than was previously provided under the Youth Guarantee.

The TUC has said it is concerned that with the funding levels under the Youth Contract dependent upon employers taking-up the Government's job subsidy places, the cuts could be even sharper.

No statistics have yet been published on employer take-up levels but concerns have been raised by UK manufacturers' organisation EEF that many employers do not know about the scheme.

The North West is the worst-hit region with a 53% increase (26,000 youngsters) in the number of 16-24 year-olds out of work for six months or longer, followed by the East of England (40%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (29%). London is the only area to have witnessed a small fall.

The North West, which has seen the biggest rise in long-term youth unemployment, has also witnessed the largest drop in funding - with nearly £16 million cut from budgets, the TUC claims.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "With such sharp cuts in support for young unemployed people, it's no surprise that the Government is failing to get to grips with this urgent problem.

"It is deeply concerning that many of the areas hit hardest by unemployment are seeing such a steep drop in financial support for jobless youngsters.

"Long-term youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb under the nation's finances, with severe consequences not just for young people but also for their communities and the country's wider economic prospects."

He added: "This crisis simply cannot be tackled on the cheap. These cuts are a false economy - failing to act now will cost us all in the longer-term."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "Over the next three years the £1 billion Youth Contract will offer nearly 500,000 opportunities for young people through work experience, apprenticeships and wage subsidies to help them find work.

"Work experience is proven to be effective at helping people into work at a fraction of the cost of the Future Jobs Fund."

The TUC analysis is taken from the Labour Force Survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published in September 2012.

The TUC analysis refers to long-term youth unemployment as unemployment of six months or more using the International Labour Organisation definition.