Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith has criticised the Government for its shoddy execution of a scheme intended to get young people into work.

A report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – of which Mr Smith is a member –  said that the Government’s Kickstart scheme had supported far fewer young people than predicted, that “early delivery was chaotic” and that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “neglected to put in place basic management information that would be expected for a multi-billion-pound grant programme”.

In Parliament, Mr Smith had previously asked DWP Secretary Therese Coffey about ensuring the scheme generated enough jobs for young people to justify its hefty cost.

Mr Smith was told at the time that it was expected that Kickstart would help 250,000 young people into work. To date it has supported 168,000 young people, at a cost of £1.26bn.

Mr Smith also spoke in Parliament on behalf of a local employer who had contacted him to explain the frustrating experience of trying to engage with the scheme, one characterised by sluggish progress and poor communication.

Mr Smith said: “I had high hopes for Kickstart but, as we have also seen with other Government schemes set up to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic, the implementation was rushed and the operation was sloppy.

“We have heard that there was not enough oversight of what was being delivered, no way of measuring its success and no real sense of whether it was proving value for money.

“As a result, this scheme was slow to get off the ground and has ultimately failed to meet its targets by some way.”

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