Sunday, 24 January 2010

Young people in West Reading - let down by Labour

The latest official unemployment statistics were published earlier this week.

It is good to see the number of people out of work has fallen by approximately 7,000 - however the number of people currently out of the work is still far too high - at over 2.4 million.

This is Gordon Brown's real legacy.

The number of young people not in education, employment, skills or training (NEETs) has also fallen - this is a real credit to all the people and organisations in Reading who are working to support young people in the area.

But I am still concerned about young people who despite all the strategies and initiatives adopted by Reading Borough Council and Connexions Berkshire continue to struggling.

One young person struggling alone in Reading is one too many, in my view. We cannot afford both as a society and as an economy to overlook any young person.

Young people like Nathan - a young man from Dee Park estate who has been trying to find employment in Reading for months and who was interviewed by BBC South on Friday.

I was asked what the Lib Dems would do - you can see the piece here:

I'm delighted local and national media are finally picking up on this issue and joining the campaign for action.

Unemployment peaked in Reading last October and seeing the impact for myself on people living in my ward spurred me on to campaign on this issue.

I visited Reading Job Centre Plus in October and spoke to staff. At that time 1,000 people were coming through the doors every day and they were looking at ways of expanding to cope with demand.

Before Labour Ministers start slapping themselves on the back I think it's important to point out some pretty bleak facts that these figures conceal:

  • There are currently over 8 million people currently classed by government as 'economically inactive'
  • The employment rate is at its lowest rate since 1996-7 (the number of vacancies has fallen)
  • There are currently an estimated 927,000 16-24 year olds out of work in the UK (down fro 943,000)

So what's the picture like here in Reading? (figures quoted available on the NOMIS website)

  • There are currently just under 4,000 people claiming Job Seekers Allowance
  • 40% of people currently claiming JSA live in West Reading: in Whitley (395), Battle (360), Norcot (350) and Minster (320)
  • The majority of JSA claimants in Reading are in the 20-24 age group (690 people)
  • There are currently 330 young people aged between 17-19 out of work and claiming benefit -

Yet more evidence, as I wrote earlier this week, that despite rising wealth and standards of living in some parts of town, Reading continues to be a very divided place economically.

It's a place where many people have not benefitted from years of a Labour government or a Labour Council.

And to an extent our assumptions are based on the official statistics. But we know that there are more examples of 'hidden jobless'.

This interesting article which appeared in the The Independent earlier this week has more about the rise in 'hidden jobless' including the big rise in the number of people being forced into part-time work due to a shortage of full-time roles.

This recession is having a disproportionate impact on young people and in particular young black people. Research carried out by the Institute of Public Policy Research and published in The Guardian this week revealed that 1 in 2 black youngsters (48%) aged between 16-24 are currently out of work.

This is a shocking statistic and a damning indictment of 13 years of a Labour government. Labour ministers like Harriet Harman and David Lammy claim that equality matters to the Labour Party but young black kids growing up under a Labour government have not found themselves better off or with an equal chance of success in British society today.

Nick Clegg has described the plight of young black people struggling in the recession as 'completey unacceptable' an this week he pledged that a Lib Dem government would work to dramatcally increase opportunity for young people of all races currently out of work.

You can find out more about Nick's plans to help young people in my post earlier this week.

I am committed to providing a strong voice for people all colours, races and faiths who have been let down by Labour in this recession.

If you have been badly affected, or you know someone who has I would love to hear from you.

Please get in touch.

No comments:

Post a Comment