Friday 19 August 2011

David Miliband to lead ACEVO Commission on youth unemployment

Nearly 1 million young people in the UK are now unemployed. The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is 20.2%. Things have rarely been this serious.

The problem is clearly very real and has been growing for some time.

What’s more we know that unemployment, particularly if prolonged, causes lasting damage to the individuals concerned – particularly the young.

Studies suggest unemployment makes people unhappy and fosters feelings of helplessness. Young unemployed people are more likely to feel ashamed, rejected, lost, anxious, insecure. They’re likely to be less confident of the future, and say that they have nothing to look forward to or that life has no direction. They are more likely to say they have turned to drugs.

We know that unemployment makes people unhealthy ; increasing susceptibility to malnutrition, illness, mental stress and loss of self-esteem leading to depression, and increasing the probability of poor physical health outcomes in later life

Being unemployed also makes it more likely that people will be repeatedly unemployed (or ‘state dependent’) and makes people less likely to be well-paid in future. The longer the period of unemployment, the greater the damage to the individual appears to be – and nearly a quarter of a million 16- to 24-year-olds have now been unemployed for over a year.

But it’s not only the individuals directly impacted, which unemployment has a negative impact on but society as a whole and the public purse. Evidence suggests that as unemployment rates rise, crime tends to rise. Higher unemployment rates mean fewer people contributing to the economy, and more people claiming benefits. Increases in the unemployment rate lower the happiness of everyone, not just the unemployed and the deterioration of the health of the unemployed will ultimately translate into cost burdens for the NHS.

ACEVO has long championed the role that third sector organisations can play in tackling unemployment which is why it’s so exciting to today be unveiling what we hope will be ACEVO’s most significant Commission yet.

We have been in discussions with David Miliband since youth unemployment reached a new high earlier this year. It is great that David has agreed to chair our latest Commission exploring the issue.

The Commission has been set up to consider the potential role of the third sector but also look more broadly at potential solutions to the issue of youth unemployment.

The Commission itself will be a relatively small group but it is an all-star cast, including Katherine Kerswell (CEO, Kent County Council), Prof. Paul Gregg (Bristol University) Jonathan Portes (Director, National Institute for Economic and Social Research) and a great sector figure Baroness Stedman-Scott (CEO of the charity Tomorrow’s People),

Over the course of the next few months the taskforce will be seeking evidence from ACEVO’s 2,000 members and a wide range of experts and other groups from the public, private and third sectors.

Today we’re launching a call for evidence. We’re extremely keen to hear from you right from the start. To share your views you can either email ACEVO’s policy team directly on or you can take part in the survey here.

The Commission will be reporting this Winter.

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