Neets must get benefit support, say MPs

9th April 2010 at 01:00
Generous benefit support should be offered to unemployed young people who take up education, training or work, say MPs

Generous benefit support should be offered to unemployed young people who take up education, training or work, MPs recommended this week.

Despite an extensive system of financial aid for 16- to 18-year-olds in education or training, those not in employment, education or training (Neets) face barriers to study in the wider benefits system, according to the report by the Common's Children, Schools and Families committee.

Committee members travelled to the Netherlands to investigate its system of offering relatively generous levels of benefit to young people in exchange for a greater level of compulsion to take up education, training or work.

Published yesterday, the report, says: "We recommend the Government considers the merits of this approach. It is particularly important that the most disadvantaged 16- and 17-year-olds should not be deterred from pursuing opportunities in education and training by the constraints of the benefits system."

It notes that the proportion of 16- to 18-year-old Neets has altered little in 20 years (fluctuating between 8 and 14 per cent) and radical change is needed to crack the problem.

The report calls for a seamless strategy covering 16- to 24-year-olds, and for Government to consider extending the September and January guarantees to 18-year-olds. It recommends a scheme of work placements for 16- and 17- year-olds in community projects. It also wants government to address barriers that risk preventing young people on benefits from undertaking unpaid work or full-time volunteering.

The report welcomes the Government's Total Place programme, and its cross- departmental review of financial support for 16- to 18-year-olds. It recommends a one-stop-shop approach to support services for young people, incorporating healthcare, housing support, benefits and careers advice. It was welcomed by the University and College Union (UCU).

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