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February 28, 2014 - Rachel Miller

BCC calls on Osborne to help "lost generation"

BCC calls on Osborne to help "lost generation"The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called on George Osborne to use his Budget speech on 19 March to focus on youth employment, training and enterprise.

In its submission to the 2014 Budget, the British Chambers of Commerce has presented employers' concerns about the work readiness of young people and warned of the prospect of a "lost generation". It is proposing concrete measures to promote business investment in young people aged 16-24, and is also calling on the chancellor to enhance tax incentives for those investing in companies run by young entrepreneurs.

The BCC submission proposals include:

  • A new £100m Future Workforce Grant scheme. This would provide a £1,000 payment to businesses that hire long-term unemployed young people or a new apprentice and could create 100,000 new jobs in 2014.
  • A two-year extension to the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme. Given that demand is already outstripping supply by 12 to one, this would create 80,000 additional apprenticeships.
  • Increased tax relief via the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) from 30% to 50% for investors in businesses run by under-24s.

The estimated cost of these interventions (at just under £400m) is less than 0.02% of government current spending for the next three years according to the BCC.

John Longworth, BCC director general, said: "We all know that politicians are already looking to manifestos and the 2015 general election. But the crisis of confidence separating Britain's employers and young people can't wait for political posturing or the electoral cycle. Businesses across Britain tell me they want to hire young people. Yet many cannot afford to take the risk, especially at a time when other, more qualified applicants are coming forward for the job vacancies on offer."

He added: "If the Chancellor wants to avoid a lost generation among today's 16-to-24 year-olds, he must use the spring Budget to help businesses take on and train up young people, whether they are going straight into jobs or into apprenticeships. Getting young people into employment is vital, pressing, and easily affordable right now."

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