Unemployment in Hackney: Hackney Gazette

05 Nov 2009

Hackney Gazette

Unemployment in Hackney has long been a problem. In the eighties most of the major factories in Hackney closed down as a result of, then Tory Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher’s policies. Under the Labour government a lot of effort has gone into bringing jobs into communities like Hackney. The money poured into the Health Service and local government has certainly created jobs. And the Olympics should bring jobs to Hackney although I am not satisfied by the numbers so far and I continue to campaign on the subject.

Education is the key to people’s employment prospects and the Labour government has spent a lot on education facilities like Hackney Community College, B6 College and the new academies. Mossbourne, our first academy had stellar exam results this summer. Three other academies (Jack Petchey, Bridge and City) have opened and one more is in the pipeline. The government has also put in place a range of programmes to put people into jobs. New programmes in Hackney include giving jobseekers additional one-on-one support in modern recruitment methods, giving jobseekers financial support from day one, and stepping up the help jobseekers receive with job search and CV techniques. Long-term unemployed people can get funding for in-work training from the Job Centre and the London Skills Council. Young people are being given extra help during these difficult times. From January 2010 there will be a “Young Person Guarantee” which means all 18 – 24 year olds will be guaranteed a job, work-focused training or place on a community-based programme within a year of claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Recently figures were published which revealed that  Hackney North and Stoke Newington had a very high ratio of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance compared to the number of jobs available at the local Job Centre Plus. This is a misleading figure. It does not relate to the overall rate of unemployment in Hackney. This is because many Hackney North and Stoke Newington residents find work outside of the constituency: on the Olympic Park or in the City for example. And the figure is based on jobs available at the local Job Centre. But many employers do not advertise at the Job Centre. So the actual number of jobs available to people in Hackney is much higher than those advertised at the Job Centre. We are going through some very tough economic times and unemployment rates have been rising all over the UK. But this year Hackney North and Stoke Newington has seen one of the lowest rises in unemployment in the entire country. That is thanks to a number of projects targeted at getting people back into work including job fairs, pre-employment training and recruitment drives for big companies like Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s.

Employment is a key issue for me and there is a great deal more that needs to be done. But when the Labour Party came into power in 1997 my constituency had the fourth highest level of unemployment in the country. Now we have the 66th highest level of unemployment. So nobody can say that we have not made progress.

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