With national unemployment figures still on the rise, to 2.56 million, Croydon North MP STEVE REED, in his exclusive column for Inside Croydon, announces his initiative to help those out of work in his constituency
Unemployment in Croydon North remains stubbornly high. Long-term youth unemployment continues to rise, while unemployment overall is at near-record levels.
Every week I meet people desperate for the chance to work, or worried about the prospects for the young people in their family.
The debate about unemployment in Parliament feels very different from what I encounter in Croydon. In the House of Commons, government ministers like to use the terms “strivers” and “skivers” to distinguish between those in or out of work. This isn’t language you hear in the real world.
The government wants to demonise the unemployed as idle and feckless because, that way, they hope to avoid the blame for failing to get the economy growing fast enough to create the jobs that people need.
Before entering Parliament as a newly elected Labour MP, I hadn’t expected to agree with much of what Tory ministers had to say. But I was shocked to see the Chancellor, George Osborne, stand up and attack people for not having a job, as if they wanted to spend all day in bed.
No doubt a tiny minority of people play the system and should be stopped, but the vast majority of unemployed people are desperate for a job if only they could find one.
I’ve been asking myself what I can do about this. Of course I can stand up in the chamber and attack the government for what they’re doing – and I’ve done that several times now.
But we need practical action, not just words. That’s why I’m inviting any organisations or community groups in Croydon that want to help tackle the scourge of unemployment to come together and see what we can do. This summer I will host a jobs summit for Croydon North.
It will bring together employers and people looking for work, people who want work experience and organisations that can provide it. I will also invite all the local public organisations, business representatives, schools, faith and community groups, and training providers to sit down and look at what more we can do to bring jobs to Croydon North and get our people trained up to secure them.
We don’t have to accept appallingly high levels of unemployment and the poverty they bring. Our community has the power and resources to make a difference. The Thatcher government threw a whole generation of young people on the scrap heap, and the current government is repeating the same mistakes.
I hope as the local MP I can use my position to bring people together to take action that will give people back hope. If anyone reading this would like to get involved with the jobs summit please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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