As jobless figures rise on Merseyside, Minister says people can be part of Liverpool’s renaissance.
Stay in Liverpool and be part of the renaissance of a “maverick” city, new employment minister Esther McVey urged young people across Merseyside.
The Wirral West Conservative MP – one of the biggest winners in last week’s reshuffle – was confronted with unemployment figures showing the number of jobless aged 16-plus in the North West has jumped by 24,000, climbing to 294,000 for the three months to August.The overall unemployment rate has gone up from 7.8% to 8.6%.Ms McVey acknowledged the situation was “tough” but insisted that young people who are asking whether they should stay in the city could play a major role in its transformation.
Describing her own background running a business office providing space for start-up companies, she said: “I had a lot of graduates from Liverpool University come to work for me because they loved the city. So I would totally say, if you buy into that city and you love that city, because it is fantastic, do stay there and be a part of the renaissance.” The employment minister also acknowledged that these were not easy times for people who had been forced to change jobs.
She said: “It’s difficult if somebody’s had a job in the public sector but moved off to the private sector.” The disappointing jobs figures for the North West contrast with an overall fall of 18,000 in UK unemployment to 2.49 million.
Ms McVey said Liverpool had gone through a period of “significant change” but she was adamant the foundations for a better future had been laid, even if some challenges will not be “sorted in a couple of weeks”. She said: “You have seen 45,000 new private sector jobs since 2010… And when I go home to Liverpool and you look at the opportunities there in the pipeline, so you look at the super-port – the £300m investment there… you look at how we actually changed the rules, allowing Liverpool to have a cruise terminal, which it then needs to go forward and exploit, you see the £400m investment going into the new hospital – now that’s not just the new hospital, that’s the new bio-centre that goes with it – you look at Wirral Waters, you look at the international trade centre -“There are huge opportunities, all of which we’re bringing in, but it ain’t gonna be sorted in a couple of weeks.
“But I think what you can say is the investment that has gone there to build the foundations [has] been significant.”
Describing how some of Britain’s famous business leaders, such as Sir Terry Leahy, have their roots in Liverpool, she said: “You’ve got key people from that area… It’s a maverick city. It’s a fantastic place.” Singling out Birkenhead for praise, she said: “Birkenhead [is] number two in the country for the fastest-growing concentration of businesses.”
However, Lynn Collins, NW TUC Regional Secretary, said: “The North West is feeling the effects of the government’s austerity agenda. It’s clear proof that more needs to be done and that the government’s plans just aren’t working.
“Despite cutting public sector jobs and the slow growing economy that isn’t creating the jobs the Government predicted, the coalition seems to have run out of ideas. We need an alternative economic model that delivers good sustainable jobs and we need a jobs guarantee for every unemployed young person.“A rise in unemployment comes on top of a cost of living crisis, with rising costs alongside real term wage cuts and an increase in the use of food banks and pay day lenders. It’s difficult for anyone to claim that this is working for people in the North West.”