Thursday, 27 November 2008

"She is absolutely right"

Quite glad I made the decision not to switch on the computer when I got home last night, although it would have saved you all rather a lot of trouble. The BEP's online archives only go back a few months, which is a shame, because otherwise you would have found this news story:

Core of teenagers refusing to work - Bristol MP
21 February 2008,
Bristol Evening Post

Hundreds of 16- to 18-year- olds in Bristol are refusing to work or train for jobs, the Prime Minister has been warned.

Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy claims that even though youth unemployment has dropped by more than half over the last decade in her constituency, a "hard, resilient core" of youngsters still refuse to go to college or get a job.

During Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, the MP for Bristol East called for more to be done to tackle the problem.

Latest figures show that 1,840 16- to 18-year-olds in the former Avon area are classed as "NEETs" (Not in Education Employment or Training).

Ms McCarthy told the Prime Minister: "Youth unemployment has fallen by 58 per cent in my constituency since 1997. "But there is still a resilient core of young people who are not in work, education or training.

"They are in families in which a culture of being out of work and dependent on benefits has been passed down from one generation to the next."

Ms McCarthy warned that jobless teens were often linked to crime and anti-social behaviour.
She raised the issue after Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell unveiled new plans to tackle unemployment by forcing the long- term jobless to do a month's work or face losing benefits.

Those who refuse would be subject to a "strict sanctions regime" that could see them being forced to work for their benefits or have their benefits removed altogether.

The Bristol East MP said tough measures were the only way to deal with people who refused all other help to get work.

She said: "We have done really well on employment but there is a concern that there is a hard core that have fallen by the wayside.

"There are some people not being reached by existing measures.

"There are lots of options - there are apprenticeships and jobs - but with some people it has got to be a tougher approach.

"It is not fair that other people are subsidising their lifestyles.

"I meet older residents who have lived on an estate all their lives, who have worked and feel they have made a contribution, and they feel resentful.

"There is a concern that people may be subsidising their lifestyles with crime. Anti-social behaviour can also be a problem. Everyone knows of problem families.

"Does the Prime Minister agrees we could and should be doing more to break the cycle of poverty and unemployment?"

Bristol had 940 NEETs in 2006, B&NES recorded 270, North Somerset 250 and South Gloucestershire 380.

Mr Brown told MPs: "She is absolutely right, and I applaud the way that she has taken up the issue of youth employment in her constituency and in the country.

"Youth unemployment has fallen by more than 60 per cent over the last 10 years, but there is more to do. That is why the Welfare Secretary is putting forward proposals to deal with people who are long-term unemployed ."

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