UK developing youth underclass, says Prince's Trust

Young people entering a Job Centre
Image caption The youth unemployment total currently stands at close to one million people

The Prince of Wales's charity for young unemployed people has warned the UK is developing a "youth underclass".

A survey for the Prince's Trust of more than 2,300 people aged 16-24 suggested those from deprived backgrounds were three times more likely to say they will "end up on benefits".

The trust blamed an "aspiration gap" between rich and poor.

Its report comes ahead of figures on Wednesday that may show unemployment among the young hitting one million.

Dead-end job

The research revealed what the trust described as the tragedy of young people from poor homes who feel they have no future.

A quarter of those from deprived backgrounds believed they would achieve few or none of their life goals, with a similar proportion expecting to end up on benefits for at least part of their life.

Some 23% from this group thought they were destined for a dead-end job compared to 6% of those from affluent families.

More than one in six of those from poorer homes said their family and friends had made fun of them when they talked about finding a good job.

The survey, in conjunction with the Royal Bank of Scotland, also found one in 10 young people from the poorest families did not have their own bed when they were growing up and almost a third had few or no books in their home.

Trust chief executive Martina Milburn called on both the public and private sectors to act.

She said: "The aspiration gap between the UK's richest and poorest young people is creating a 'youth underclass', who tragically feel they have no future.

"We simply cannot ignore this inequality."

Youth unemployment currently stands at close to a million.

On Tuesday, David Cameron told the Commons Liaison Committee, comprising the chairmen of MPs' select committees, that the UK had "schools and opportunity" problems.

"This is a very severe problem. We understand the extent of it," he said.

The prime minister added: "We have got to fix the problem of people leaving school without adequate qualifications."

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