*UK-WIDE ALLIANCE FOR FULL EMPLOYMENT FORMED, UNITING REGIONS AND NATIONS OF UNITED KINGDOM
*GORDON BROWN CALLS FOR BANK OF ENGLAND TO ADOPT NEW EMPLOYMENT TARGET
*DEMAND FOR POST-OCTOBER 31 EXTENSION OF FURLOUGH IN KEY SECTORS, WAGE SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES SENT HOME IN LOCAL LOCKDOWNS AND FULLY-FUNDEDYOUTH EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE
An Alliance for Full Employment, encompassing all regions and nations of the United Kingdom, is being formed today (Thursday) to fight for nationwide economic recovery policies that can prevent rapidly-rising redundancies and unemployment.
The Alliance is led by the Welsh First Minster Mark Drakeford, metro mayors Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester) Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region) Jamie Driscoll (North Tyne Combined Authority ) Dan Jarvis (Sheffield City Region ) Sadiq Khan (London) and Marvin Rees ( Bristol).
Among the measures that they are focused on are a fully-funded youth guarantee of jobs training or employment that goes beyond the six-month offer of just 25 hours a week to cover only 250,000 of the 3.5million under 25s not in full-time education In a statement today, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is working with the mayors and Welsh leader, calls for all national institutions to focus on job creation including the Bank of England, which he says should target low unemployment.
In a joint statement from the mayors and First Minister of Wales they say:
“The biggest economic issue of our times is high levels of unemployment. Recognising the need for working together – locally, regionally and nationally – to deal with the current jobs emergency and the need for good employment that is well paid and fulfilling, we want to work with colleagues in every region and nation of the UK. We want to support an Alliance for Full Employment to mobilise all the resources of the United Kingdom to end the recession and create good, quality jobs.”
Mr Brown said:
“The democratic part of our constitution is no longer just MPs and local councillors but directly-elected regional mayors and elected decision-making bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“And – by coming together and linking up the power of the regions around Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and London to create an Alliance for Full Employment – they can force the Prime Minister to listen.
“A strong, broad-based UK-wide Alliance for Full Employment, encompassing trades unions and businesses, can not only press him on the economy but also revive the solidarity and spirit of co-operation and unity our country desperately needs.
“Instead of the stand-off between Scotland and the UK, I want to emphasise co-operation, shared values and common ground that exists between the nations and regions.
“All UK institutions have to make high levels of employment a greater priority. Having been the Chancellor responsible for the Bank of England Act 22 years ago, I am disappointed that while obligations for employment are included in its statutory objectives, the Bank of England does not place greater emphasis on maximising employment.
“The Bank should announce an operational target, that interest rates will not rise or stimulus end until employment returns to its pre-crisis levels. And we should agree a new constitution for the Bank imposing a dual mandate: to take unemployment as seriously as inflation.
“In truth, austerity – which was always the wrong policy – now makes even less economic sense in 2020. When interest rates have seen record inflation and interest rate falls, our first priority cannot be fiscal retrenchment when the needs in our communities are so great and when the cost of borrowing for investment in our long-term future is so low.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“The Coronavirus has presented us with a series of massive economic challenges, chief amongst them being a looming crisis in unemployment as the furlough scheme draws to a close next month.
“Without continued support from national government, some sectors – and the many thousands of jobs reliant on them – will struggle to survive. Mass unemployment is no foundation for economic recovery. Instead we should be focussing on creating and sustaining jobs, while investing in the skills and infrastructure we need to drive job creation in the industries of the future.”
Mr Brown added:
“Young people are now facing the worst of times yet the Government’s Kickstartyouth employment programme will assist only 250,000 of 3.5million under-25s not in full-time education and only for six months. So we need to reintroduce the more generous Future Jobs programme of 2009.
“Preventing unnecessary bankruptcies and unemployment this winter will lead to a stronger and more lasting recovery later. I would maintain furlough payments in key sectors vital to our economy, if necessary supporting part-time work.
“Where a local lockdown occurs and workers are forced to stay at home, I would offer a wage subsidy and not the current £13-a-day token payment.
“In truth, austerity – which was always the wrong policy – now makes even less economic sense in 2020. When interest rates have seen record inflation and interest rate falls, our first priority cannot be fiscal retrenchment when the needs in our communities are so great and when the cost of borrowing for investment in our long term future is so low.”