Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth: Creating jobs must be priority
This week, Sir Peter Soulsby launched his economic plan. This outlines the council's ambitions to secure £60 million of investment for jobs and growth in Leicester, involving the creation and safeguarding of 8,500 jobs and 800 opportunities for apprenticeships, work placements and internships.
The 30-month Leicester to Work programme prioritises youth unemployment.
It is exactly the sort of initiative the Labour council should be taking when we are faced with the unacceptable levels of joblessness among the young.
Just look at the latest figures. Today in Leicester there are 12,641 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance. In my own constituency of Leicester South, the number of unemployed claimants in October was 4,559.
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This is one of the highest levels of unemployment across the East Midlands.
Of those unemployed in Leicester South, 1,310 were aged between 18 and 24.
For this reason, I wholeheartedly endorse Leicester City Council's economic plan.
Councils need to do what they can to reduce rates of unemployment and the plans launched this week in Leicester are a massive step in the right direction.
That said, it cannot just be left to councils.
Its about time the Tory-Liberal Democrat Government got its act together and did more to get people back into work.
The latest labour market statistics showed that unemployment has fallen nationally.
However, long-term unemployment, including among young people, had risen again.
Over a third of the unemployed have been out of work for over a year.
It was these people who were supposed to be helped back into work by the Government's flagship Work Programme.
It would seem that the programme is not working, because we now have long-term unemployment at nearly a million.
Long-term unemployment and a rising claimant count is helping push up the welfare bill by a staggering £24 billion.
The Government needs to face the facts: high unemployment means a bigger benefit bill and more borrowing.
It is time David Cameron and George Osborne changed the course of their economic plan and took action to get the economy moving again.
A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people and build 25,000 affordable homes would be a great start.
This policy makes up part of Labour's five-point plan for jobs.
Our plan aims to bring forward long-term investment projects, involving schools, roads and transport, which will get people back to work and strengthen our economy.
The five-point plan would reverse the VAT rise implemented by the Government for a temporary period, providing immediate help for high street businesses and for struggling families and pensioners.
It is in this direction that the Government needs to proceed.
It feels as if Cameron and Osborne are putting political pride above the real needs of our struggling economy.
I hope they can put this pride aside before the cost to the taxpayer gets any higher.