David Cameron’s pledge to create “full employment” after the next election has been slammed by a North East MP who warned that the region has too many low-wage and low-skilled jobs.
The Conservative leader continued his focus on the economy in a major speech setting out key pledge that will appear in the Conservative General Election manifesto.
“After a tough few years, we have a good record of getting people into work – 1,000 jobs every day this Government has been in office. We’ve created more jobs here in Britain than the rest of the European Union combined.”
But Labour highlighted its plans to guarantee a job for every unemployed person out of work for two years – or for one year if they are aged 18 to 24.
The compulsory scheme will be funded partly by a new tax on bankers’ bonuses, Labour says.
Julie Elliott, Labour MP for Sunderland Central, said:
“People in the North East will find David Cameron’s conversion to achieving “full employment” extremely difficult to believe.
“This government has been complacent in the extreme when it comes to the jobs situation in this region. It’s a strategy based on creating low wage, low skill jobs, often on zero hours contracts with low job security. This isn’t a strategy for the long-term success of our region.
“A future Labour government will introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee to ensure that all young and long-term unemployed people get a real chance of work.”
> Or Workfare, as its otherwise known. No new ideas, as ever…
The most recent figures show that the North East continues to have the highest rate of unemployment of any region, with 9.1 per cent of the workforce currently unemployed.
This is down from 10.1 per cent a year previously, but it remains significantly higher than the national unemployment rate of 6 per cent.
It means the number of unemployed people in the North East has fallen by 11,000 people over a year and stands at 118.000.
The number of people in work in the region has increased by 32,000, an increase of 2.8 per cent, over 12 months.
Official figures also show that 59,000 people in the region work part time because they cannot find a full time job.
And they show that 33,000 people in the region actually work two or more jobs, which may suggest that they would struggle to make ends meet on a single salary.
The difficulties facing the North East’s economy were highlighted in a major new study from think tank the Centre for Cities, which examined the performance of cities across the country.
The region is losing private sector jobs, the think tank’s studies show.
Newcastle and the surrounding area lost 2,400 private sector jobs between 2012 and 2013, while Sunderland lost 1,800 and Middlesbrough lost 1,000.
All three cities are in the bottom ten, out of 64 cities and major urban areas examined, for private job creation. Nationwide, the number of private sector jobs grew by 1.6 per cent.
One measure of the success of cities is the growth in their population according to the think tank, which said: “cities that provide many job opportunities are likely to retain and attract more people than cities that do not.”
However, of the 64 cities examined, Sunderland has the worst record for population growth – because it is the only place where population actually fell, by 5,400 people between 2003 and 2013 to 276,100 people.
But there was also good news for the North East.
Newcastle has been one of the most successful areas for job creation.
The number of jobs in Newcastle and the surrounding area rose by 29,300 between 2004 and 2013 – an increase of eight per cent.
This was the eighth highest increase in the country, based on the think tank’s study of 64 cities and major urban areas.
Andrew Carter, acting chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Five months out from the election, this report makes the strongest economic case yet for the next Government to step up to the challenge of investing in the long-term success of our cities, and build a brighter future in which more people and places can contribute to, and share in, prosperity and growth.
“The stark picture the report paints of the enormous gap in the fortunes of UK cities over 10 years underlines why a ‘steady as she goes’ approach must be scrapped.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 20 Jan 2015
CIVIC bosses remain confident Sunderland has a bright economic future, despite a new report which says it has fewer businesses per head of population than any other city in the UK.
The Centre for Cities’ 2015 Cities Outlook report ranks Sunderland as the lowest out of 64 for ‘business stock’, with 186 businesses per 10,000 people.
The city is also second bottom for new business start-ups and patents registered.
It is not all bad news, however, with the city ranked fourth best in the country for manufacturing jobs and 22 out of 60 for the number of people with 5A*-C GCSEs including Maths & English.
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said:
“This Centre for Cities report offers a useful comparison which confirms that we are making good progress on a number of fronts, but that we face some of the same challenges that we have been aware of for a long time.
“What lies behind the figures is perhaps most interesting for Sunderland residents.
“Manufacturing, in particular, has undergone a period of rapid growth within the city – with Nissan having increased output by 50 per cent in the last two years.
“And we’ve seen a spate of private investment in the city centre complemented by our own investment in new public space such as the Keel Square, which is nearing completion.
“With these behind us, Sunderland is on course for further growth in jobs and prosperity in the years to come.”
> Growth of 16 hour/week and zero contract jobs, if the vacancies are anything to go by. Whether that’s something to celebrate is a matter of opinion.
Today’s report highlights the growing gulf between the south of England and the rest of Britain.
It shows that for every 12 net new jobs created between 2004 and 2013 in cities in the south, only one was created in cities throughout the rest of Great Britain.
And with an election just months away, it calls on all parties to ensure their visions for growing cities are based on significant devolution of both fiscal and structural power, providing incentives to support economic growth, and giving greater flexibility to ensure money can be spent where it is most needed.
Cities Outlook is the annual health-check of the economic performance of the United Kingdom’s 64 largest cities.
This year’s report maps the fortunes of cities over a decade of economic boom and bust, during which three major parties have held power.
It shows national growth between 2004 and 2013 was largely driven by only a handful of cities – mainly located in the South – which have seen their populations boom, their number of businesses grow, and thousands of new jobs created while migration of young and skilled workers, a lack of business growth, and falling employment opportunities have other cities’ economies to contract.
The report says successive Governments’ efforts have failed to rebalance the national economy and warns even the best-performing cities in the south are now facing problems, especially from rocketing house prices.
“Five months out from the election, this report makes the strongest economic case yet for the next Government to step up to the challenge of investing in the long-term success of our cities, and build a brighter future in which more people and places can contribute to, and share in, prosperity and growth,” said Centre for Cities acting chief executive Andrew Carter.
“The stark picture the report paints of the enormous gap in the fortunes of UK cities over 10 years underlines why a ‘steady as she goes’ approach must be scrapped.
“We must move from thinking that bundling up new funding streams with bureaucratic delays, or simply tinkering around the edges with well-intentioned announcements, will be enough to reverse trends that are becoming increasingly entrenched.
“Cities need long-term funding and strategic planning, and policies that go to the heart of addressing the key drivers of economic growth – including transport, planning, skills and housing.
“This report throws down the gauntlet for all parties to turn their recent interest and pledges around cities and devolution into a clear plan to grow jobs and businesses, and improve quality of life throughout the United Kingdom.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 19 Jan 2015