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DUP Communities Spokesperson Paula Bradley has said the delay in introducing a Northern Ireland version of the Kickstart scheme is harming young people and the local economy.

She contrasted comments from the Chancellor of the Exchequer this morning where he highlighted over 100,000 jobs created across the rest of the UK to the lack of movement from the Communities Minister who did not replicate the scheme here but promised a bespoke programme for Northern Ireland.

The North Belfast MLA said, "The Kickstart scheme was announced by the Chancellor in his summer statement last July. Its creation provided a significant Barnett consequential to Northern Ireland and responsibility for this area lies with the Department for Communities.

The then Minister Caral Ni Chuilin did not replicate the scheme as introduced in the rest of the UK but said she wanted a bespoke scheme for Northern Ireland. However, over seven months since its announcement and nearly four months since its launch, young people in Northern Ireland have been offered no assistance.

The Chancellor is able to point to a roadmap that will help 250,000 young people, with over over 100,000 young people in fully-funded high quality jobs as a result of the Kickstart scheme. Here in Northern Ireland we are still waiting for movement from the Communities Minister.

This inaction is not only having a direct impact on young people who see their chances hindered, but it is also holding back attempts to rebuild our local economy. The Communities Minister should explain exactly why the scheme introduced in Great Britain was not replicated here and what the impact of that decision has been on young people here.

Young people in Northern Ireland should not be disadvantaged, and deserve the same opportunities as those elsewhere across the United Kingdom."