Great Britain

‘Tragedy’ as young pay the cost of virus crisis

AN EXTRA thousand young people in Blackburn with Darwen are claiming unemployment benefits due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.

Department for Work and Pensions statistics show 3,000 people aged 16-24 in Blackburn with Darwen were on Universal Credit as of August 13.

This is 1,182 more than the 1,818 who were claiming in early March, before the country went into lockdown, bringing the economy to a near-halt.

Commenting on the figures, Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said: “Every job lost is a tragedy and it is vital we do all we can to safeguard people’s livelihoods.

“We are in the midst of a jobs crisis right across the UK, but these figures show certain areas are more at risk than others. The Government must adopt a more tailored approach now if we are to avoid further job losses.”

Meanwhile, youth charities in Blackburn have also reacted to the findings.

Sam Ali, CEO of the Switch Youth Organisation said: “This pandemic has affected young people in many ways. Career prospects, businesses closing, just in general the prospects for young people have dipped massively.

“There are many reasons for the rise in youth unemployment and as I was saying months ago youth organisations should have been able to stay open to support people through this. Where was the support from the government? We could have helped prevent this.”

The borough’s young unemployed joined 122,657 others across the North West who were seeking support in August, up from 68,048 in March.

Nationwide, the figure almost doubled to 938,000 over the first five months of the crisis with separate Office for National Statistics figures showing young people hit the hardest, with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in employment dropping by more than 150,000 in the three months to July.

The Intergenerational Foundation charity says younger people will be left to pay the bill for protecting older generations.

Co-founder Ashley Seager said: “These statistics demonstrate the intergenerational unfairness in the Government’s approach to COVID-19.

He added: “After all, it is the younger generation who will have to pay the bill for protecting older generations for decades to come.”

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: “We recognise that the pandemic has been difficult for many people who are worried about their incomes and that’s why our £30 billion plan for jobs is aimed at protecting, supporting and creating jobs and it’s welcome news that there is some recovery in vacancies.”

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