Nick Clegg is today launching his £1bn flagship scheme to get young people into work amid accusations that the government has been complacent over youth unemployment.
The Deputy Prime Minister – who has championed the plan in the coalition – will say the start of the Youth Contract offers a route into work for young people, creating at least 410,000 new jobs over the next three years.
However Labour last night released figures showing the numbers of under 25-year-olds out of work has more than doubled since the start of last year when Clegg reportedly first raised the issue in Cabinet.
According to the figures calculated by the independent House of Commons Library, the numbers of 18 to 24-year-olds out of work for more than six months have risen from 53,000 to 107,000 – a 102% increase.
Those out of work for nine months or more increased from 29,000 to 40,000 – a jump of 144%.
Unemployment Minister Chris Grayling denounced the figures as a “complete distortion of the truth”, saying long term youth unemployment had “barely changed” for two years.
Under the Youth Contract, first announced last November, firms will be offered £2,275 “wage incentives” to take on up to 160,000 under 25s, while the scheme will also create an additional 250,000 work experience placements…