A north London MP has warned the prime minister he is “sorely mistaken” if he thinks the Government’s back to work programme will be enough to alleviate unemployment in his constituency.
Tottenham MP David Lammy said thousands of his constituents are chasing just a handful of jobs vacancies, a situation he said exists right across London.
Lammy told David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions: “You have described the work programme as ‘the biggest back to work programme since the 1930s’, but you know that the programme doesn’t create jobs, it merely links people up with vacancies. There are over 6,500 people unemployed in Tottenham and only 150 full time vacancies. What will your work programme do about that?”
Cameron defended the Government’s back to work programme and advised people to be prepared to commute if they want to find jobs.
The prime minister said: “The work programme plays a key role in helping to prepare people for work. It also brings employers in so they can offer jobs to the people. I’ve looked specifically at Tottenham because I know when I visited your constituency with you, of course there is a shortage of vacancies in the Borough of Tottenham itself, but we have got to encourage people who live in London to be prepared to travel more widely to look for work.”
Lammy claimed that there are nearly a quarter of a million job seekers in the capital, but only 30,000 vacancies currently exist, so it was unfair to suggest merely looking further afield for work would solve the problem.
He said: “It is insulting to imply that my unemployed constituents haven’t looked for work beyond Tottenham. They want work, but it just isn’t there, be it in N17, EC4 or SW1. The work programme will not do anything for my constituents if there isn’t any work to do to start with.
“Unemployment is a curse on places like Tottenham. Young people are leaving school and coming of age on the dole queue. Families are breaking down as parents are struggling to cope with no work to provide food, purpose and direction. This Government is sorely mistaken if the work programme alone will make a difference in Tottenham. We need a new plan for growth and for jobs.”
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month revealed unemployment in London had increased by 28,000 in the three months to August. Unemployment stood at 425,000 people in the capital between June and August, the ONS said.