New chamber chairman wants chancellor to help

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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THE chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do more to help employers hire young people who are out of work.

Ahead of this year’s budget statement, which will be delivered to the House of Commons by George Osborne tomorrow, the chamber’s new chairman, Stewart Dunn, has urged the chancellor to help businesses take on unemployed people.

Mr Dunn said: ‘It is a disgrace that unemployment among those aged 18 to 24 is three times the national average (compared to other working ages).

‘To avoid a lost generation, the chancellor must do all he can to enable employers to hire young people, whether straight into work or through apprenticeships.

‘We call on him to pursue three specific measures to promote more business investment in young people.

‘First, he should extend apprenticeship grants for employers. Secondly, he should heed the call of chambers across the country in providing a £1,000 payment to businesses that hire a long-term young unemployed person. Third, he should back young entrepreneurs by providing tax relief for those investing in businesses run by under-24s.

‘Investment isn’t just about plant and machinery – it’s about people and their future.

‘The chancellor also needs to provide focused support for small firms and exporters by doing much more to offset the rising costs of business rates which continue to be levied irrespective of profitability.’

According to the latest figures, released by the Office for National Statistics on February 19, more than 900,000 young people are unemployed, with more than 250,000 unemployed for over a year.