HAMPSHIRE Chamber is urging the Chancellor, George Osborne, to focus support on tackling youth unemployment in today’s budget.

Chief executive Stewart Dunn, said: “It’s a disgrace that unemployment among those aged 18 to 24 is three times the national average.

“To avoid a lost generation, The Chancellor must do all he can to enable employers to hire young people, whether straight into work or through apprenticeships.

“We call on him to pursue three specific measures to promote more business investment in young people. “First, he should extend apprenticeship grants for employers.

“Second he should heed the call of Chambers across the country in providing a £1,000 payment to businesses that hire a long-term young unemployed person.

“Third, he should back young entrepreneurs by providing tax relief for those investing in businesses run by under 24s.

“Investment isn’t just about plant and machinery - it’s about people and their future.

“The Chancellor also needs to provide focused support for small firms and exporters by doing much more to offset the rising costs of business rates which continue to be levied irrespective of profitability.”