MP hits out at benefit proposals

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BELLSHILL MP Tom Clarke has hit out at welfare change suggestions from the government which would affect young people on benefits.

Mr Clarke said plans to scrap housing benefits for under-25s was a ‘planned attack on unemployed young people’.

Other plans include scrapping the £70 a week dole money for those who refuse to try hard to find work and forcing ‘hardcore claimants’ to do community work after two years on the dole.

The Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill MP said: “The Prime Minister is completely out of touch with the reality of what young people are experiencing. I have struck up a relationship with Comforti Institute Youth Group in my constituency. As a group of young people they deserve credit for their pro-active approach.

“They are endeavouring to establish what opportunities exist for young people and how more opportunities can be created whether in a working or educational environment.

“The very last thing young people want to do is hang around doing nothing. Incidentally most young people out of work in my constituency still reside with their parents.

“Let me explain why I believe the Prime Minister is absolutely clueless on this subject.

“The facts are that youth unemployment is at a record high with over one million 16-24 year olds unemployed in Britain.

“Here in my constituency of Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill there are 940 young people out of work or full-time education.

“Looking at the wider communities of North Lanarkshire the figure of unemployed young people is a staggering 3,705.

“This level of young unemployment is at crisis proportion. There is no simple quick fix solution to youth unemployment.

“Successfully tackling this problem will take time and financial resources and a great deal of co-ordinated partnership working.

“All the research on youth unemployment demonstrates the scarring impact that long periods of unemployment can have on young people’s future lives. “It is also important to draw on the evidence of what works in terms of supporting young people who are struggling to find employment.”

He added: “Because of the rising unemployed among young people I am currently working with Conforti Institute Youth Group.

“In recent weeks I have contacted various public agencies to establish what policies and practical solutions are already in place that can actually help young people.

“Moreover I also want to learn of their impending plans to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.

“We don’t need a stick to beat young people; after all, it is not their fault that youth unemployment is so high.

“We don’t need a weekend headline of the Prime Minister sounding hawkish about slashing benefits of young people who are unemployed. “All of which is designed to arrest the decline in his personal popularity. What we need is a mature approach towards finding solutions.

“We need all our public agencies and the private sector to work together to create real and lasting opportunities so that young people can take their rightful place in employment and contribute positively to the economy.

“That is what young people want too.”