Headlines: December 17th, 2009

Local authority leaders are calling for more powers to allow them to help tackle rising youth unemployment. The Local Government Association said a coherent approach was needed to deal with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who are out of work.

Latest figures show the number of unemployed young people is higher than at any time since 1992. Councillor Margaret Eaton, who chairs the LGA, said nobody wanted to see children growing up in a world where their potential was being wasted by a system that did not give the right support at appropriate times.

“Government departments, national agencies, voluntary organisations and local authorities all work to different targets and agendas, and that can muddy the water and prevent a coherent approach to dealing with the issue of young people who aren’t working or getting any form of training,” she said.

Councillor Eaton said that with all public money having to work as hard as possible, paying billions of pounds a year in benefits was simply money down the drain unless ways could be found to use that money to help people change their lives. Few people, she said, wanted to depend on benefits to support and feed their families but the current system sometimes worked against them.

“Councils know where the work opportunities are, and they know what barriers prevent teenagers and young adults reaching their full potential in their local areas. Local government has the ideas to put that right, now we need the powers to make that happen,” she said.