What statement means for the young

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Georgie Gillard/PA

The chancellor said his autumn statement focused on stimulating the supply of credit, boosting business enterprise and helping families with the cost of living

But what does this mean for the country's youth trying to make their way on the career and property ladders?


Employment
Youth unemployment in the UK has been rising for the past seven years, the Chancellor said – partly due to jobs in short supply, but also due to school leavers lacking the skills and experience to enter the world of work.

To help combat unemployement among 18-25-year-olds – which peaked at one million for the first time this month – Mr Osborne confirmed the launch of £1bn Youth Contract programme, announced by Nick Clegg last week.

The scheme, spread over three years and starting next April, will provide 410,000 work places, including 160,000 wage subsidies and 250,000 work experience placements.

In addition to work experience placements for youths who have been out of work for three months, employers will be offered six-month subsidies of £2,275 for each young worker they take on, enough to cover half of the minimum wage for youth employees.

Critics have highlighted the similar Youth Training Scheme (YTS) launched back in 1983 and Gordon Brown's new deal employment option, which also involved subsidies for employers, launched in 2009. Labour has accused the government of a U-turn for scrapping the previous future jobs fund, only to introduce its own initiative.

Yet ministers say that the future jobs fund placed people in the public sector or community organisations and that they did not always learn marketable skills – whereas the youth contract is aimed at private sector opportunities. The aim is to match people up with employers who might go on to offer them real jobs.

The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion argues that subsidies tend to have very low take-up, so it is a case of only time will tell for the new scheme. It depends on the willingness of private sector companies to sign up, which is a big ask at a time of such economic uncertainty.

Commuting costs
Of course, once you have a job, you have to get there and commuters have been battling the rising cost of train fares and fuel against the backdrop of inflation and pay freezes.

Mr Osborne offered rail and road users limited good news, announcing lower than expected price increases. Acknowledging that for many households, running a car was a necessity rather than a luxury, the chancellor said he would cancel the proposed 3p a litre fuel duty increase on petrol and diesel due in January. Instead, he said motorists would not see any increases in fuel duty until August 2012 when petrol prices will rise by 3p a litre.

The chancellor said as result of scrapping the annual fuel tax escalator and cutting fuel duty by 1p in his March 2011 budget, fuel prices were now 10p a litre lower than they would have been had he not acted. He claimed his government has cut households' petrol costs by £144 a year since it came into office.

Rail users also had a little good news, with the Chancellor announcing that the planned 8% rail fare increase for new year will be revised to 6%. Rail firms have been able to increase fairs by inflation plus 3% - but this will now change to July's RPI inflation measure of 5%, plus 1%. This will apply to Network Rail as well as the London underground and bus service.

Housing help
Acknowledging the huge numbers of wannabe first-time buyers locked out of property purchase due to high deposit demands, the Chancellor announced a range of measures including mortgage indemnity, renewal of the social housing right-to-buy scheme and investment in Get Britain Building programme.

Under the right-to-buy, families in social housing will be able to buy their property at a 50% discount – the receipts of which will be reinvested to build affordable new homes. The Chancellor also announced plans to help 100,000 more onto the housing ladder through mortgage indemnity – where the government will underwrite part of the risk, along with house builders, of lending to first time buyers.

Mr Osborne announced a further boost for the property sector through a £400m investment in Get Britain Building – a fund for building firms with projects approved, that have stalled due a lack of development finance.

While these moves are welcome, the Chancellor's decision to end the temporary first-time buyer stamp duty concession on 24 March 2012 as planned, as been met with frustration. Stamp Duty appears to undermine the government's own attempt to kickstart the housing market, explains Paul Smee, director general of the Council for Mortgage Lenders.

"It is disappointing to see the government withdrawing the stamp duty concession that currently benefits first-time buyers," explains Smee. "While the concession may not have stimulated additional demand, it was a significant help to home-owners entering the market and its removal runs counter to the themes of the new housing strategy. It is likely that we will see a bunching of eligible first-time buyer transactions early next March to beat the expiry date on the concession."

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