An inquiry into the economic impact of COVID-19 launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Youth Affairs finds that young people have had their financial, emotional and vocational wellbeing inordinately affected by the pandemic, and that a holistic approach is needed in order to aid their recovery.
In addition to job losses, educational disruption and financial pressures, young people have also experienced increased family strain, heightened anxiety and exacerbated mental health issues as a result of the pandemic. The APPG on Youth Affairs inquiry found these areas to be inexorably interlinked, and further compounded by the overall uncertainty of employment prospects for young people in the future.
In order to help counteract these issues and safeguard the economic future of young people, the group of MPs propose a considered and collective approach in order to provide support at a number of key levels. The first two recommendation are for an extension to key provisions and schemes currently benefitting young people, such as the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and Kickstart, Apprenticeship and Trainee schemes.
While the APPG acknowledges that government interventions have been welcome and for the most part effective, they have contained gaps missing precarious, seasonal and newly self-employed workers. A premature end to current support systems could have a greater detrimental effect on young people’s achievements and leave them stranded. As such, mechanisms to facilitate job retention after placements finish should also be introduced, such as financial incentives for prospective employers.
As part of a wider support system, the report also proposes that plans for a dedicated youth strategy be brought forward, providing long-term, stable funding for universal youth service provision, as well as inclusion of young people in the policy decisions that affect them following on from the pandemic.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Chair of the APPG on Youth Affairs said:
“This latest report shows that young people as a generation have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. The APPG on Youth Affairs, alongside youth organisations, identified the economic and social impact of coronavirus on young people as an urgent area of investigation. What we have found is that young people are in dire need of support at almost every juncture. We note the government’s good will in providing some support, but it is not enough. We believe that our recommendations will work to significantly reduce the hardships faced by so many as they struggle to make ends meet and decide what the next step should be.
“Investing in the future of young people not only helps to clear a path of recovery for them but also for the country, as a strong youth workforce with a bright economic future will feed into and benefit from the UK economy as a whole. There is real potential to create an efficient and constructive cycle of education, employment and support for young people, and now is the time to set it in motion.”
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said:
“COVID-19 has inflicted serious damage on young people. Not only has it left them isolated, anxious and fearful of the future, it has created and exacerbated financial hardships and crushed employment opportunities. Young people cannot and will not be left to deal with this damage alone.
“Wrap-around support is needed in order to restore young people’s confidence and ultimately strengthen their educational and employment potential. Investment in youth services is vital to alleviate the isolation, anxiety and family strain plaguing so many young people, while investment in educational experience and employment opportunities will ensure that young people enter the working world prepared to carve out a successful economic future.”
Research was conducted by the APPG on Youth Affairs, alongside evidence provided by industry experts and the continued guidance and testimonials of young people. You can read the Youth Affairs Report 2021 here.
Summary of Generation COVID: The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on young people in the United Kingdom
Recommendation 1: Maintain the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, committing to review the rate annually in the Autumn budget until a time whereby the economy has recovered.
Recommendation 2: Maintain the Kickstart, Apprenticeship, and Traineeship schemes, committing to review the schemes annually in the Autumn budget until a time where they are no longer effective in finding employment for young people facing long term unemployment.
Recommendation 3: Introduce mechanisms to facilitate job retention of young people after Kickstart placements end, such as financial incentives for employers to keep employees on either through 1 year fixed term or permanent contracts.
Recommendation 4: Introduce financial education as part of the National Curriculum, from age 16+. Including advice on financial products, budgeting, and living costs.
Recommendation 5: Bring forward a dedicated youth strategy, highlighting the Government’s offer to young people, built around employability, skills, and resilience with long-term stable funding for universal youth service provision to provide skills for life and work through partnerships with local businesses and communities.
Recommendation 6: Provide additional support and opportunities for young people and employers to ensure that they are “work ready” on leaving full time education, and equipped with the skills to manage, training and support new workers.
Recommendation 7: Include young people in the policy decisions that affect them following on from the pandemic. The government’s response to youth employment, financial security and wellbeing should be led by and delivered in partnership with young people.
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Youth Affairs was established in 1998 to raise the profile of issues that affect and concern young people, encourage dialogue between parliamentarians, young people and youth services, and encourage a co-ordinated and coherent approach to youth policy making. The group currently has around 100 members, drawn from both Houses of Parliament, a current register of officers and members is available on the Parliament website: www.youthappg.org.uk
The British Youth Council and YMCA England & Wales provide the secretariat for the APPG. The group is supported by an advisory group of experts drawn from organisations that work with young people.
British Youth Council
The British Youth Council is the National Youth Council of the UK. A youth-led charity empowering young people aged 25 and under to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives.
The British Youth Council support young people to get involved in their communities and democracy locally, nationally and internationally, making a difference as volunteers, campaigners, decision-makers and leaders.
YMCA England & Wales
- YMCA England & Wales is made up of 101 member YMCAs working to ensure young people have opportunities to thrive and contribute positively to their communities.
- YMCAs operate in 700 different communities across England and Wales, impacting upon the lives of more than 570,000 people every year.
- YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of supported housing for young people in England and Wales, providing a bed for 8,800 people each night and collectively helping more than 20,000 people experiencing homelessness each year.
- YMCAs provide a safe space for 41,960 young people through our extensive youth services work, welcoming almost 20,000 young people through our 79 youth centres throughout England and Wales.
- YMCA is the largest sector provider of nursery and childcare provision, working with 207,000 children, young people, parents and carers to provide the best possible start in life, offering support into teenage years and beyond.
- YMCA England & Wales enables more than 28,000 people every year to engage in education and training to enable them to improve their opportunities in the job market.
- YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of services promoting physical activity in England and Wales, helping more than 132,000 people of all abilities and experiences to look after their health and wellbeing through healthy living activities.
- YMCAs connect almost 72,000 young people with someone to talk to or a helping hand, offering specialist guidance and practical skills to best equip them to overcome whatever challenges they may face.