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
Almost twice as many public sector jobs have been lost across the North-East under the Government’s cuts than originally forecast, claims the TUC.
And the union organisation is warning of more to come, with councils facing further cuts in the new financial year.
It was revealed last week that Hartlepool Borough Council is to get £8.3million less in the financial year 2015/16 than in the previous 12 months.
The TUC says analysis of the latest figures show there are 59,000 fewer public sector jobs in the North-East than when the coalition came to power in 2010 – almost twice the figure originally predicted when Chancellor George Osborne outlined the planned cuts immediately after the election.
The TUC says Office of National Statistics data reveals the region’s public sector has contracted by an average 1,157 public sector jobs per month since June 2010.
And with more than seven months’ data still to be collected before the end of this parliament, the Northern TUC is predicting the loss of at least 8,000 more public sector jobs in the region.
Northern TUC policy and campaigns officer Neil Foster said:
“The loss of 59,000 jobs from the public sector has been terrible news for services in the region and for the individuals affected. But it has also harmed our region’s recovery and contributed a deterioration of the quality of jobs.
“The cuts have been even deeper here than many expected because the coalition has made bigger reductions to funding for councils in poorer areas in the north than to more affluent parts of southern England. The North-East continues to have the highest unemployment in the UK and double the rate of the South East of England.
“Only a small proportion of private sector jobs created have been full-time, secure or well paid, which is one of the reason why income tax receipts have fallen this last year.
“Women make up two thirds of public sector workers, and so it is not a surprise that the number of women out of work in the North-East has risen by a quarter in the last two years as more and more redundancies have been made. Rather than appreciate the failure of taking such an extreme and damaging path, the Chancellor announced earlier this month that he wants to see even more cuts in the future, which would be devastating for us here.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 29 Dec 2014
The Conservatives have said they will target working class Northern voters even as austerity measures continue.
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps hit back at claims the party had “given up on the North” and insisted tomorrow’s Budget will be good news for the region.
With a strong UKIP vote predicted in the upcoming European elections, the party is still way behind any signs of a revived North East presence.
Mr Shapps said he was confident the party could fight back in the region.
He said: “I recognise that we have a long way to go, we took over a recession from the last Government, there was no double dip recession.
“Now there are in the North East 17,000 more people in a job than there were.
> 15,000 of them are self-employed leaflet distributors….
There is just the start of the recovery. I know the North East had some big issues to deal with, the reliance on the public sector, but it is showing good signs.”
He admitted though that there was little hope in sight of an end to Government spending cuts.
“What we need to do now is not create more Government jobs but help create more private sector jobs,” he said.
“There is no short cut. If you believe you can somehow just raise taxes and spend money on jobs we know from years of experience that it just does not work.
“We have come this far, it has been difficult and painful, I totally get that. But what we do not want to do is hand the car keys back to the people who crashed this economy in the first place.”
> No chance of that, they never gave up possession of the car keys in the first place… just got someone else to take the points on their licence (something certain Lib Dems, for example, know all about).
Mr Shapps faces a difficult task turning that economic message into votes in the North East, with a 10% unemployment rate standing as the UK’s highest.
Asked if he feared losing out to UKIP in the region despite the Budget message, Mr Shapps said: “If voters want a referendum the last thing they should do is vote UKIP, because that will just hand power to Labour, and then you will never get what you want.”
Over the weekend Labour had attacked the Tories record in the North, saying it had abandoned the region.
Asked if he thought this was true, Mr Shapps said: “Absolutely not, the North has been the engine of the economy and I think we will see that again in the North, and Conservatives are going to be a part of that.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 18 March 2014