Inside Housing reports on the extra funds being offered to housing providers through Youth Contract to begin to tackle youth unemployment, following a lack of engagement with the Work Programme.
(This article was published in Inside Housing on 14 March 2012)
Housing associations wanting to get involved in the government’s welfare to work initiatives are to be given an ‘extra boost’ through a £1 billion scheme for young people.
Chris Grayling, employment minister, said that landlords would benefit from the Youth Contract which launches next month and aims to provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for 18-24 years olds, including apprenticeships and work experience placements.
Mr Grayling was speaking at Portcullis House, Westminster, at the official launch of the Give Us A Chance consortium - a group of 23 housing associations that are already working together with the prime contractors on the government’s £5 billion Work Programme.
Nearly 60 per cent of social housing tenants are unemployed, but just 35 social landlords are taking part in the Work Programme. Exclusive research by HACT, the housing action charity, and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, shows that just 20 per cent of housing providers are engaging with it at all.
The Give Us A Chance consortium, sees housing associations including Guinness Partnership, Riverside, Radian, Plus Dane Group, Castle Vale Community Housing Association and Forum Housing Association, teaming up to assist the Work Programme’s prime contractors to support unemployed people into work.
Kate Shone, head of business development and innovation at Forum Housing Association and chair of the consortium, said that it would start by offering six-month-long paid positions under the Work Programme, designed to ‘gives people the opportunity to showcase their talent’.
‘We’ve got just over £250,000 to put into the first tranche of 100 positions,’ she explained. ‘We anticipate this rising with the Youth Contract.’
During his speech, the employment minister confirmed the housing associations involved in the consortium would be well placed to offer placements under the Youth Contract.
‘What we are seeing through this new initiative is what I always hoped would happen under the Work Programme: partnerships where there were no instructions from Whitehall, where nobody telling them how to do the job,’ he said.
‘It’s really good to see housing associations working with the Work Programme providers, as they are helping the people who have the most challenges – including workless households,’ Mr Grayling added.
UK labour market statistics published today show that 1.042 million 16 to 24-year-olds were unemployed in the three months to January, an increase of 28,000 on the previous three month period. The unemployment rate among young people stood at 22.5 per cent, compared to 8.4 per cent overall.