Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Business Chuka Umunna today (Friday 19 July) backed calls for the government to hand down more powers to the region’s local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships in order to tackle the growing unemployment problem in the North East.
On a visit to PD Ports in Redcar, Mr Umunna said:
“This week’s jobs figures in the region show that the government’s current economic approach just isn’t working for the North East. Unemployment is up again, long-term unemployment has increased, the local economy is sluggish and inward investment into the region has slumped, including in comparison to other regions.
“The North East needs a government prepared to roll up its sleeves and take real action, but instead the out of touch Tory-led government seem to be oblivious to the real problems facing this region. The government’s flagship growth policy, the Regional Growth Fund, has been mired in chaos and delays and regions and local areas are being held back. Ministers’ promise of rebalancing lies in tatters.
“The North East has fantastic strengths. It has a dynamic manufacturing sector which can drive the recovery. It is a net exporter of goods so it’s playing more than its part in growing the national economy. It’s time that the government took steps to give local authorities and the LEPs in the region the budgets, powers and responsibilities to enable them to drive a local strategy for growth, transport and skills.
“If this government won’t act to sort the unemployment problems in this region then it needs to get out of the way and let decision makers in the region do it themselves.”
Chuka Umunna was on Teesside to meet apprentices from Redcar Development Trust’s Fit For Work programme at Teesport. He also visited Tata Steel in Lackenby to talk to management and representatives from Community – The Union.
Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for Redcar said:
“I am delighted to welcome Chuka to Redcar and to Tata Steel and PD Ports. Both companies have been part of our past economic success and can drive our future local prosperity. It’s great also to get the opportunity to introduce Chuka to some of the apprentices at PD Ports. Working with the fantastic Redcar Development Trust, PD Ports have been able to give young long-term unemployed people a chance at a real future and a trade, gaining new skills. We need to see more done to support more companies to do this.”
Frankie Wales from Redcar Development Trust said:
“I’m really pleased that Chuka has come today to meet the young apprentices who have gone through the Fit For Work Scheme. They have worked really hard and it’s great to see them getting the opportunities they deserve with PD Ports.”