Youth unemployment rate up 50 per cent in Wakefield district since start of Covid

The number of young adults claiming unemployment benefit in Wakefield has shot up by more than 50 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 12:52 pm

Almost 2,300 people aged 16 - 24 were on Jobseekers Allowance in July 2021, compared to 1,490 in March 2020.

The figures were revealed in a council report on the same day the local authority ploughed more cash into two new "youth support hubs" which will soon be set up in the district.

The hubs will offer advice and support to young jobseekers, as well as access to health and wellbeing programmes, sport and social activities.

Pontefract town centre

They will be located at Lightwaves Leisure Centre in Wakefield and Platform One in Hemsworth and will serve 11 - 24 year-olds. The council already runs a similar service at The Hut in Airedale.

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday, the council's Cabinet member for children and young people, Margaret Isherwood said: "School closures have left young people feeling isolated and disconnected during the pandemic.

"I think the onus is on us now to give them the support we need."

Citing the unemployment figures in the report, Councillor Isherwood: "In my opinion investment in these new facilities is very necessary.

The council is setting up a new youth support hub at Lightwaves Leisure Centre in Wakefield

"We need to give them hope."

Figures suggest around 40 per cent of those accessing unemployment help at The Hut in Airedale subsequently found work.

Senior councillors signed off an extra £820,000 for work to progress at both of the new sites.

Cabinet member Councillor Michael Graham said the hubs would give teenagers "a chance in life":

Councillor Isherwood said young people in the area needed to be "given hope".

He said: "I think young people sometimes get a really bad rap in general because of a few bad apples.

"Tackling anti-social behaviour and youth disorder tend to be top of people's priority lists.

"I think investing in the future is how you tackle it.

"It's not all about enforcement and punishing people, it's about putting things in place early for them."

Local Democracy Reporting Service