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Social Mobility: Young People

Volume 737: debated on Monday 4 September 2023

Every day, our work coaches help people of all ages and all backgrounds to overcome barriers, build their confidence and move into and progress in work. For young people, we have specialised support via the DWP youth offer. We have extended our Jobcentre support for people in work and on low incomes, helping them to increase their earnings, to move into better-paid, quality jobs and to improve their prospects through in-work progression. We are also providing additional work coach time and boosting the skills support, meaning that we are truly opening up opportunities for all.

I welcome my hon. Friend’s strong commitment to social mobility, and I share her approach. However, what are the Government doing to ensure that young people in my constituency of Bexleyheath and Crayford have the jobs that they need and greater opportunities to succeed?

I agree and am determined to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background or postcode, can succeed in Bexleyheath and Crayford and beyond. As part of the DWP youth offer, we have a youth hub serving my right hon. Friend’s constituency, working in partnership with YouthBuild Ventures, to help young people to build their confidence with tailored wraparound support and to move into local jobs.

Degree apprenticeships are a great way for those who are socially less well off to get into employment and avoid the costs associated with getting a degree through other routes, so what steps is the Minister taking to help more people achieve that ambition?

I agree that it is key that young people get the right opportunities to progress, thrive and move into long-term sustainable work. Apprenticeships are crucial in driving growth and social mobility. They boost business skills and improve people’s earnings and progression opportunities. My hon. Friend will be pleased to see a new youth hub open in Walsall shortly, and that our work coach has been working with Walsall College on place-based tailored employability support for his area.

The biggest bar to young people finding employment in the lakes and the dales is the fact that there is nowhere affordable for them to live—average house prices are 12 times average incomes, and the long-term rented sector has collapsed into the Airbnb sector. Will the Minister make the Lake district and the Yorkshire dales special pilot areas to ensure that the only homes we build there are affordable ones for people who will make their lives there, work and contribute to our economy, so that we do not run out of workforce?

I think we can agree on one thing: the hon. Gentleman’s area is a very special one. In the meantime, we have recruited at the DWP 37 progression leads who will work locally with employers and jobcentres to sort that progression and retention challenge, but I think some of his questions are for a different Department.