Youth unemployment more than doubles across Hampshire and Portsmouth as economic impact of coronavirus pandemic starts to bite
THE number of young people aged 18 to 24 claiming out-of-work benefits during the coronavirus pandemic has more than doubled in many parts of Hampshire and Portsmouth.
With many businesses having to cut staff during the crisis in order to survive, it’s young workers who have been hardest hit with 276,000 additional 18 to 24-year-olds across the country having signed on between March and June.
Portsmouth North has been one of the areas worst hit with the proportion of young people now needing unemployment benefits having almost tripled from four per cent in March to eleven per cent in June.
The economic impact of the pandemic on young people is a concern for the constituency’s MP, Penny Mordaunt.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Young people would have been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic due to the type of work they are often in at that stage of their career.
‘That’s why a great deal of recovery support is aimed at creating job and training opportunities for them, including new apprenticeships. Our city is full of hardworking and entrepreneurial people and we will recover from this awful blow to our economy.’
It’s a similar situation in Gosport with youth unemployment claims having risen from four to nine per cent while Havant has more than doubled from four to ten per cent.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage hopes the government’s £2bn KickStart job creation scheme will help provide young people with the skills needed to return to work. The scheme, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak, will subsidise six-month work placements for people on out-of-work benefits aged between 16 and 24.
During this period the government will fund 25 hours' work each week at the National Minimum Wage as people are up-skilled for new careers.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘These figures show the importance of the unprecedented action the government has taken. From the £2bn KickStart scheme to the huge investments in traineeships and apprenticeships – it’s all about helping young people into work.
‘We already have fantastic innovative employment focused skills training at Fareham College’s Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training and Civil Engineering Training Centre.’
While Portsmouth South has seen a smaller proportional increase – two to four per cent – constituency MP, Stephen Morgan, feels the government need to extend the furlough scheme – which is due to finish in October – for certain sectors of the economy.
Mr Morgan said: ‘While measures announced in the chancellor’s Kickstart Scheme go part way in acknowledging the impact of Covid on young people’s opportunities, more action is needed to tackle the scale of the unemployment crisis caused by the pandemic.
‘What we need to see included is an extension to the furlough and self-employed schemes and tailored support for people living in areas disproportionately affected.
‘The one-size-fits-all approach adopted by government, combined with support schemes finishing too early, is putting our economy and people’s livelihoods at risk.’
The Fareham, Meon Valley and East Hampshire constituencies have experienced more than a three-fold increase from two per cent in March to seven per cent in June.