Sport 4 Life UK CEO, Tom Clarke- Forrest, responds to Autumn Statement 2023

“With unemployment in the West Midlands running at a relatively high 5.3 percent, Sport 4 Life UK welcomes some of the measures announced in today’s Autumn Statement to boost jobs and invest in skills.

It was encouraging to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt confirm the West Midlands as one of the next investment zones, with funding and tax reliefs valued at up to £160 million over a 10-year period.

The commitment to supporting advanced manufacturing in our region is also very welcome, with its intention of leveraging £2 billion in private investment to create 30,000 jobs over the next decade.

However, we would like to see further detail on the announcement regarding apprenticeship pilots in engineering and key growth sectors, as many of our beneficiaries may be eligible for such opportunities.

We want to ensure no one misses out on these important life chances, particularly as the West Midlands unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds is at a staggering 15 percent.

It was also interesting to see a tougher approach to job seekers on benefits. Sport 4 Life UK will continue liaising with Jobcentre partners to assist youngsters to move into gainful employment or training before they reach the point of sanction.

In summary, whether these measures collectively will bring down unemployment in our region remains to be seen.

But with falling vacancies and a static employment rate in the West Midlands, it’s likely that governments nationally and locally will need to redouble their efforts to support youngsters into work.”