Monthly Archives: January 2014

The government needs to do more to make this a recovery for the many

David Cameron and George Osborne are once again in a jubilant mood. Today’s employment figures reveal a sharp decline in unemployment – another vindication, we are told, for the government’s economic policy. Yet here in the West Midlands, the news is somewhat mixed. On one hand, the region has been fortunate to see the biggest fall in unemployment – 32,000 – of anywhere in the country. On the other hand, at 8.1%, the rate of unemployment, particularly in Birmingham, remains far higher than the national average. The government needs to do more to ensure that cities like ours can get people back into work.

One of the reasons Birmingham and the West Midlands has a high unemployment rate is the large number of young people in the region, who are disproportionately affected by the government’s austerity policies. Nowhere near enough has been done for young people here or elsewhere in the country; the Work Programme has been a catastrophic failure, meaning that young people who could have been helped by the previous government’s Future Jobs Fund are in danger of being left on the scrapheap. Nothing short of Labour’s Jobs Guarantee, ensuring paid work for young people, will address this problem and help bring Birmingham back into line with the rest of the country.

The problem does not end with those still unemployed, however. Across the city, as in the rest of Britain, we see an increasing number of working people finding it harder to make ends meet. While George Osborne has said that he would like to see the minimum wage rise to £7 per hour, a move that would be welcome to many households in Birmingham, it still would not go far enough. Any increase in the statutory minimum wage should come with incentives to businesses to offer a living wage. The government has still failed to act on soaring energy prices, and its attempts to cap rail fares have made little difference to commuters, many of whom have seen the price of their daily journeys increase yet again in the new year. We have a government that is not only not taking enough action to reduce unemployment, but it is also neglecting those who work hard and still struggle at the end of the month. Prices are still rising faster than wages, as they have done for so long under this government – this cannot go on. Life would be different under a Labour government.

Labour is leading the way locally and nationally on employment and living standards. Our own City Council pays all of its employees a living wage. A Labour government would incentivise businesses to pay a living wage, and ensure that energy prices and rail fares are capped, so that work pays and people can afford to live properly. Labour would secure a recovery that worked for everybody: young and old; those on low and middle incomes; those in work and those who want to work. People right across Birmingham are better off under Labour.

Labour saves Hall Green Library

Great news as draft district budget is set. Needs to be agreed by Lib Dems but surely they will vote in favour if it means saving the library?

Read all about it here:

George Osborne is desperate to stop talking about the cost-of-living crisis on his watch – Balls

Ed Balls MP, Labour’s shadow chancellor, responding to George Osborne’s speech on the economy, said:

“George Osborne is desperate to stop talking about the cost-of-living crisis on his watch. But that won’t stop working people from doing so as they are on average £1600 a year worse off under the Tories and prices are still rising faster than wages.

“Nor will the Chancellor admit the reason why he is being forced to make more cuts is because his failure on growth and living standards has led to his failure to balance the books by 2015.

“This failure means Labour will have to make cuts and in 2015/16 there will be no more borrowing for day-to-day spending. But we will get the deficit down in a fair way, not give tax cuts to millionaires. And we know that the way to mitigate the scale of the cuts needed is to earn and grow our way to higher living standards for all.

“The social security bill is rising under George Osborne, but the best way to get it down for the long-term is to get people into work and build more homes. The Tories should back our compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed. And in tough times it cannot be a priority to continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners.

“What we need is Labour’s plan to earn our way to higher living standards for all, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and get the deficit down in a fairer way.”

New Year’s Message from Ed

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The myth of the "welfare scrounger"

A little noticed piece of DWP research shows that four out of five claimants spent at least three quarters of the past four years off unemployment benefit.

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