Reduce youth unemployment

At the time I am writing this column the chancellor has yet to deliver his Budget. At the time you are reading it he will have done so.

Predicting politics can be dangerous, so instead I’ll set out the single most important thing I believe the chancellor could and should do, leaving it to you to see if he does.

Economic recovery is slow and patchy. Whether it proves to be consumer led, and temporary, or investment led and sustained remains to be seen.

I hope he acts to bring down long-term youth unemployment because we know the cost when a generation is locked out of economic activity. The number under 24 unemployed for more than a year in my constituency is 75, across North Tyneside it is 195.

The numbers may not be huge but as the prime minister rightly reminds us behind each set of statistics are individuals and families.

We could offer those young people a paid, starter job which if they didn’t take they would lose their benefits. We could pay for the job guarantee by a taxing bankers bonuses.

I visited G4S on Cobalt last week, working hard to upskill their workforce. A few weeks ago I visited Accenture, also on Cobalt, heading up a cluster to train new IT apprentices.

Employing a young person, paying a living wage, developing new skills, is the best way of ensuring social mobility and allowing them to pay their way.

Many companies are doing their bit but so must the Government.