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The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) has today welcomed the first Youth Contract figures as a promising start, but warns that regional variations in the wage incentive may be necessary to hit government targets.

Government statistics released today show that employers have so far taken on 21,460 young people, with 4,690 wage incentives paid to date.  The scheme was launched in April 2012 and is intended to run for three years, with 160,000 wage incentives on offer in total.  The wage incentive of £2,275 is payable to the employer once the eligible young unemployed person has completed 26 weeks of employment. The money is available in relation to young people on the Work Programme and those supported by Jobcentre Plus.

Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of Employment Related Services Association, said:
‘We’re delighted that 21,460 unemployed youngsters have been helped into a job by the wage incentive to date.  However, it’s clear from feedback that the incentive amount may not always be high enough in some parts of the country to tempt employers to take on extra staff.  We’re therefore asking government to consider varying the level of wage incentive available to reflect different costs across the UK.’

Previous work by ERSA and the CBI has been aimed at marketing the Youth Contract wage incentive to businesses.  A joint leaflet was produced in December 2012 for distribution across CBI and trade body membership. 
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Press enquiries should be directed to Gemma Hopkins on 020 7960 6317.

Notes to editors:

1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the trade body for organisations delivering or with an interest in employment related services – sometimes called welfare to work.  The scope of reach includes skills provision, self-employment, offender related services, welfare reform and disability-related issues, as well as the design and delivery of employment programmes.  Membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors ranging from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities operating in their local communities.

2. The Youth Contract was unveiled by the Deputy Prime Minister in 2012 as a £1 billion package of measures to tackle youth unemployment.  The wage incentive is available for employment of 16 hours or more per week. There is a part time rate (£1,137.50) between 16 and 29 hours and a full time rate (£2,275) for 30 hours or more.  When an eligible young person starts a job and it is expected that the job would last 26 weeks, the Work Programme provider or Jobcentre Plus issues a wage incentive claim form to the employer. The wage incentive is then paid after the young person has remained in work for 26 weeks.  The government’s press release can be found here.  The official Youth Contract Wage Incentive Job Start statistics can be found here and the official Youth Contract Wage Incentive Payment statistics can be found here.

3. ERSA and the CBI have been working together to market both the Work Programme and the Youth Contract wage incentive to employers. The marketing material can be found here.