The economy is the biggest challenge currently facing the UK Parliament. With unemployment at a 17-year high, one in five young people out of a job and economic growth flatlining, we urgently need a credible plan for growth and jobs. Such a plan can not rely only on austerity and cuts, but must centre on new investment in the future growth of the UK economy.
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Lord McFall has brought the issue of youth unemployment to the top of the political agenda, both currently as a Member of the House of Lords, and previously as a Member of Parliament and the Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Committee.
Young people have been amongst the hardest hit by the financial and economic crisis, with one in five young people currently unemployed, and many leaving full-time education without the prospect of jobs or training available to them. A period of unemployment whilst young can affect a person’s chances for the rest of their life.
Lord McFall has called for specific attention to be paid for jobs and training for young people. Speaking in the House of Lords, he said,
“There are 991,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year-olds. I know from when I was a school teacher in Glasgow what the decimation was like in society when jobs were not available for young people. It is very important that we take on that issue.
“If we give out the message that society has given up on young people, young people will certainly give up on us. It is an overwhelming economic need, as well as a humanitarian need, for society to treasure young people. Let us show that today, with increased urgency, by factoring young people into our economic stability and growth agenda.”
Cuts are not enough
Lord McFall has criticised the Government’s lack of a credible plan for growth and jobs, saying that there is an urgent need for investment in the economy. He has called for the Government to take a radical new approach, based not solely on cuts on austerity but on new means of investment.
Speaking to the House of Lords in July 2011, Lord McFall said that the Government’s agenda of cuts could jeopardise the UK’s social stability. He said,
“The cuts are coming, and the pressure on wages will not abate until 2015 – and that is the Governor of the Bank of England talking when he appeared before the Treasury Committee in another place. I suggest to the Government that they need to be cautious, and I leave them with this important message, given these cuts. Economic prosperity is built on a platform of social stability. If the Government forget that rule they are going to get themselves into more problems. Let us hope they heed it.”
Investment in manufacturing, the green economy and new jobs
Lord McFall has called for greater investment in vital areas of the economy which have hitherto been neglected, including manufacturing, the green economy and other high-technology areas which can provide quality, skilled jobs. For too long, the UK has been over-reliant on one sector of the economy – finance – concentrated in one area of the country – the City of London.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord McFall has called for a National Investment Bank to deliver major infrastructure projects. These would not only provide jobs and growth, but would also allow a diversification of the economy into new areas and new regions.