Jobless youth costs millions

Job Centre sign
Job Centre sign

by business editor Trevor Sturgess

Soaring youth unemployment across the county could be costing as much as £3.2 million a week.

Research for The Prince's Trust - founded by Prince Charles - and the Royal Bank of Scotland underlines the steep rise in the number of 16 - 24 year olds now on the dole in Kent and Medway.

Those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance for a year or more has jumped from 50 in 2008 to 550 in 2010, a 12-year high and 11 times greater than before the recession.

A combination of lost productivity and benefit payments add up to more than £935,000 a week.

Based on lost productivity being equivalent to the average weekly wage for their age group, the cost of youth unemployment in Kent is said to be £3.2 million a week.

School-leavers with few qualifications - one in 10 across the region - have been hit hard.

Trust regional director Rosemary Watt-Wyness says the annual cost of a Kent jobseeker can be as much as £16,000.

"For a fraction of this cost, The Prince's Trust can support a jobless young person through an intensive personal development course, helping them leave the dole queue for good.

"Youth disadvantage in the UK is a financial burden on us all, but at The Prince's Trust we also see the devastating effects on individuals and communities across the region.

"Every day we meet another young person who is caught in a spiral of joblessness and poverty.

"With the right support, these young people can break this cycle and get their lives back on track.

Last year, the Trust helped 3,600 14 to 30 year olds in Kent, the south east and London.

Most have struggled at school, been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. Several have set up in business.

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