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Gloucestershire Business News

Young people bearing brunt of unemployment in Gloucestershire

Youth unemployment in parts of Gloucestershire more than trebled over the past year according to the latest figures.

Department for Work and Pensions figures showed almost one in five (18.6 per cent) of the 17,933 benefit claimants looking for work in the county are aged 18-24.

That represents a sharp increase over the last 12 months with Stroud's 516 young claimants representing a rise of 258 per cent.

There were also big increases in the Cotswolds (up 222 per cent to 345) and Tewkesbury (up 208 per cent to 413), while the numbers in the remaining three council areas all more than doubled.

Gloucester had the biggest figure at 924 (up 139 per cent) with 700 young claimants in Cheltenham, a rise of 165 per cent, and 443 in the Forest of Dean.

Those rises outstripped the overall increases in benefit claimants, although all parts of the county saw the figures more than double over the last 12 months.

Gloucester leads the way with 4,927 claimants, a rise of 129 per cent, while Cheltenham rose 151 per cent to 3,733 and Stroud by 161 per cent to 2,811.

Elsewhere, there are 2,232 claimants in Tewkesbury (up 142 per cent), 2,317 in the Forest of Dean (up 114 per cent) and 1,913 in the Cotswolds (up 135 per cent).

With the rise in youth unemployment allied to a spike in the number of 25-34 year olds out of work nationally, the Federation of Small Businesses has called on the Government to broaden its Kickstart initiative among other measures.

FSB employment and pensions policy manager Emelia Quist said: "These figures are a stark reminder of the jobs challenge we face. With the option to furlough still rightly available, they don't truly reflect the mountain we have to climb.

"Young people continue to bear the brunt of rising unemployment. The Kickstart approach should now be extended to other groups who are struggling in the labour market.

"With redundancies soaring and vacancies falling, urgent action is needed to bring down the upfront costs of employment.

"Cutting employer's National Insurance Contributions - a charge levied on employers even when their staff are furloughed - would be the best place to start."

Hospitality has been among the hardest hit sectors in the economy with this week's national unemployment figures showing the largest annual increase in accommodation and food services.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "This is a reminder, not that it is needed, that we have been hit hardest by this.

"Unless we want to see unemployment in our sector rise even further, we need more support to keep businesses alive and these jobs secure.

"The VAT cut and business rates holiday must be extended to give employers some breathing room to keep jobs safe."

She continued: "It is vital that we have a clear exit strategy and a route map to recovery as soon as possible.

"Hospitality can be the key to jobs and skills for young people and we can plug the gaps left by retail and help revitalise the economy.

"We can only do this with the right support to see us through the crisis."

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