Help us get more than 100,000 young Londoners into work, boroughs urge

One in five young Londoners is unemployed and they urgently need more support to make a positive start to their working lives, according to London Councils, the cross-party group that represents the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation.

In its submission to the Treasury for the upcoming Spending Review, London Councils is proposing a ‘new deal for young people’ - a package of reforms to existing schemes that will upgrade support for young people seeking work at a crucial time for London’s post-pandemic recovery.

London’s youth unemployment rate is nearly 7 percentage points higher than the national average. Around 107,000 young Londoners aged 16 to 24 - one in five people in this age group - are unemployed. Recent figures suggest around 25,000 young people in the capital have now come off the furlough scheme.

London boroughs take youth unemployment seriously and are collaborating to address it as a key plank of London’s recovery. They deliver apprenticeship opportunities locally and many are also providing work placements for young people through the Kickstart programme, as employers themselves and by working with local businesses.

Boroughs also support young people with disabilities via the Work and Health Programme as well as running other local support schemes, which include connecting people to jobs in London’s growth sectors.

However, given the scale and urgency of the challenge, London Councils is making the case for five key reforms:

  • Repurpose Kickstart Scheme funding to create London Kickstart Plus - which would provide support for disadvantaged young Londoners.
  • Offer early entry to the Restart Programme and other programmes, and more intensive day one support, to those coming off furlough and those who have more barriers to getting a job.
  • Extend, with TfL, the Zip card scheme to Londoners aged 18-24 for the first six months of employment, as cost of travel is proving a barrier to employment.
  • Reform the apprenticeship levy to provide clear incentives to employers to offer entry level apprenticeships.
  • Gain a fair share of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Adult Education Budget for London – to fund employment and skills projects for young people and more broadly.

These reforms could have a real impact in London. For example, repurposing unspent Kickstart scheme funding could provide work placements for 15,800 young people, according to London Councils’ Spending Review submission.

Cllr Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, said:

“With 25,000 young Londoners coming off furlough this month, and London facing the highest youth unemployment rate in the country, London boroughs are determined to do more to help young people seeking work.

“Five simple reforms to existing skills and employment schemes could have a life-changing impact on thousands of young Londoners. Our proposals focus on ensuring they get the right training and support to make a positive start to their careers, no matter what kinds of barriers they might face.

“Eighteen months on from the start of the pandemic, we need the fresh ideas, energy and talent of young people across our city to power the industries that are contributing to economic recovery, both in London and across the UK.”

Manny Hothi, Chief Executive at Trust for London, said:

“London tops the charts across all poverty metrics, including the highest number of young people not in employment – an accolade no region wants. As the country’s capital, home to some of the most diverse and emergent industries, we should be able to provide all young people with the support, tools and opportunities they need to discover their gifts and fulfil their potential. A new deal for young people, designed alongside the boroughs they grow up and live in, is vital for their futures, society and the economy.”

Many young people in London are facing real challenges when it comes to finding and sustaining meaningful work. One common barrier is lacking contacts in and knowledge of growth sectors, such as tech and life sciences. Another is needing to improve ‘soft’ skills such as communication and timekeeping. Some young people are not able to afford commuting costs, particularly if they are on lower wages. 

Notes to editors: 

Youth unemployment figures for London from the ONS can be found here:

Furlough data for London can be found here:

For more details on London Councils’ Spending Review proposals, which were submitted to Treasury on 30th September, visit


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