Young people in the North will be further disadvantaged by the pandemic if Government fails to fix delays in its Kickstart scheme, Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis has warned.

It comes as the Office for National Statistics releases data showing redundancies rose to a record 370,000 in the three months to October, fuelled by job losses in retail and hospitality. The unemployment rate now stands at almost 5% across the country, with sectors that many young people work in disproportionately affected.

His warning follows a meeting with members of the Sheffield City Region Youth Combined Authority, who shared their concerns about the uncertainty surrounding their future jobs and training opportunities with the Mayor.

The group also aired their frustrations on missing lessons due to isolation rules, dropping grades because they don’t have the equipment to effectively learn from home and a lack of clarity on funding available to keep youth services going. All of which is having a grave impact on the mental health of young people.

Following the meeting, Mayor Dan Jarvis has highlighted the huge impact the pandemic has had on the lives of young people. He said: “The Government’s Kickstart scheme is proving to be a false start and is still failing young people and businesses in our region. Only a fraction of almost 500 applications for placements from South Yorkshire firms have been approved.

“Government incompetence has squandered hundreds of opportunities for young people in our region, leaving their futures in limbo. Where you grow up shouldn’t determine where you end up and Government needs to take urgent action to ensure our young people can thrive.

“If the Government does not deliver on its promises of levelling up, I fear young people in the north will have their futures swept away by the pandemic and will be more disadvantaged than their peers in the south for many years to come.

“It is always a pleasure to meet with such an articulate group of young people and to give them a voice when it comes to issues impacting their lives. This year has been incredible difficult but young people across South Yorkshire have shown great resilience and I am immensely proud of them for that.”

Youth Combined Authority member Curtis said: “It was great to express our concerns and experiences to Dan and his team regarding Covid and the plans for the recovery period. Having reviewed the proposals, it has restored faith in me that young people’s views are still willing to be heard and acted upon – across the SCR. We look forward to continue working with Dan and his team and appreciate his time meeting with us.”

Emilia said: “The pandemic has been particularly difficult time for young people due to the restrictions put in place affecting many aspects of their daily lives and subsequently their mental health. It is great to see that the Mayor is listening to young people’s voices in regards to their experience with the pandemic.”

The Youth Combined Authority meets quarterly with Mayor Dan Jarvis to discuss issues affecting young people. As well as the pandemic, in 2020 they have discussed issues including the climate emergency and the Mayor’s Renewal Action Plan, which paves the way for a stronger, greener and fairer South Yorkshire.