The government’s wage subsidies scheme is to be brought forward as part of efforts to increase the workplace inclusion of young people in parts of the country where youth unemployment is highest.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has announced that payments will be made when young people have been out of work for six months, rather than the originally proposed nine, in 20 of the UK’s most deprived areas.

The subsidies, part of the government’s £1 billion Youth Contract scheme, will be paid to firms who provide work for unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds.

Totalling £2,275 each, the subsidies would cover six months of employment and is equivalent to half the UK’s youth minimum wage paid by firms.

Announcing the changes to the scheme at a summit held by the Confederation of British Industry yesterday (June 27th), Mr Clegg said: “Three months can make all the difference.

“When you feel like your banging your head against a brick wall, when you live in an area where opportunities are already few and far between, another 12 weeks of rejection letters, of being cut off, of sitting at home waiting, worrying, that can seriously knock the stuffing out of you, making it extremely difficult to pick yourself up.”

Jobcentres will be able to make use of the subsidy before people are referred to the Work Programme, offer more training and spend “more time with young people to knock a CV into shape or prep ahead of an interview”, said the deputy prime minister.

However, at a time when the number of those aged under 25 and without a job is above the one million mark, Labour has argued the scheme will struggle to make a significant impact.

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, described Mr Clegg’s announcement as “much too little and much too late”.

“This is a sticking plaster solution for what is now a national crisis,” he added.