Category Archives: Work and Pensions
ONLY a Yorkshire firm would have the chutzpah to sell tea to China. Yet, nearly 10 years ago, that was the deal delivered by Taylors of Harrogate, the makers of Yorkshire Tea, which dispatched its first £30,000-worth of flavoured teas to Shanghai. It was an auspicious sign for the future – and it’s the kind of story we need to hear far more.
It was long predicted that this would be the Asian century. “Beware the sleeping dragon,” said Winston Churchill decades ago. “For when she awakes the Earth will shake.” Now, the crater made by the global crash means something big. The Asian century is arriving 20 years faster than we thought. Once upon a time, forecasters thought that China might become the world’s largest economy in perhaps 2041. Now experts say we might hit that point in 2016. And the problem is we’re not ready.
If there’s a phrase the Prime Minister likes to quote, it’s the idea we’re in a global race. I happen to think we are. The problem is that we’re losing it while others streak ahead.
Just the other month, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, Charlie Bean, lamented that despite the whopping fall in the value of the pound, our export growth of recent years has been – in Mr Bean’s words – “distinctly underwhelming”.
Our economy is certainly not “re-balancing” towards exports, and while export growth to China is picking up, no doubt, we still trade far more with Ireland, than Brazil, Russia, India and China put together. We invest more in Belgium than China. And German investment in China is twice the size of ours. Germany is in fact comprehensively beating us in what may soon become the world’s largest market.
Germany now accounts for nearly half of Europe’s exports to China, co-ordinated by close ties between German and Chinese leaders and an unbelievably impressive operation at the Deutscher Industrie & Handelskammertag, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, from its magnificent polished granite, glass and steel headquarters on Breite Strasse in Berlin.
So we need to act together. For the past five years, I’ve been fascinated by this question of how we’re going to pay our way in an Asian century. I’ve travelled all over China, and talked to anyone with an opinion. And what people have said to me is simple. We need to focus like a laser on just what China needs in its next move forward – and think hard about how we can help.
When Xi Jinping swept to power as president of China in March, he offered his people a powerful vision of a “Chinese dream” — a doubling of living standards by 2020. I think Yorkshire could play a big role in making that dream a reality.
So what does China need? There are three big things.
First, China wants to build a home-grown consumer economy so that it doesn’t have to rely so much on exports. The Yorkshire Post and others recently reported on disappointing Chinese export figures. But right now, Chinese workers save a third of their wages for a rainy day rather than spending, because the country doesn’t have much of a pension system or a national health service.
Second, China wants to become a creator, not a copier, of intellectual property. In China it’s called “the iPhone problem”. China’s leaders bemoan their failure to produce their own Steve Jobs, like America. Look on the back of any iPhone or iPad. You’ll see the words, “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China”. The challenge for China is that making an iPhone costs about £4. Most of the rest of the £529 cost is Apple’s profit. China doesn’t take much of the pie.
Third, China needs to find a home for something like £100bn of foreign investment every year between now and 2020. Today, China only invests abroad at about the same level as Denmark. Over the next decade that’s going to change radically. You’ve heard of Made in China. Get used to “Owned by China”.
All this could mean some gigantic win-wins for us. We’re experts in building the “soft infrastructure” that China needs to create a safety net like ours. Our teaching hospitals are among the best in the world. We’re home to the some of the greatest insurance and pensions companies on the planet. Our legal system is world-renowned. We’ve an awful lot of knowledge to profitably share.
And as China’s consumer market blossoms, and even on a pessimistic scenario it will grow by $2 trillion between now and 2020, we need to use our membership of the world’s biggest free-trade club – otherwise known as the European Union – to knock down trade barriers for the sectors where we’re strong, especially financial services, high-tech engineering and world-leading brands. Businesses where Yorkshire is strong. What would be wrong with a little bit of self-interest in Europe?
Next, England – and Yorkshire – is one of the most innovative places on earth. Yorkshire is home to some of the world’s greatest universities, helping to educate thousands of Chinese students.
We should be thinking much more strategically about how we interconnect Yorkshire’s hi-tech firms, investors, innovators and universities to the great growth hubs in China.
Consulting firm McKinsey forecasts that up to a quarter of world economic growth between now and 2025 – about £8 trillion – is going to be driven by just 242 cities in China. Do you know where they are? You need to. Region-to-region links are going to be the great growth zones of the new global economy.
Finally, I think we need to be making sure Yorkshire is one of China’s favourite places in the world to invest. Chinese investment in Britain is growing at a rapid pace. Last year saw a flurry of activity, with Chinese investment in Weetabix, Heathrow Airport and Thames Water. But China is not investing as much in Britain as elsewhere. We need to change that: our investment-starved economy needs it.
If we get all this right, it would make a huge difference to our economy. In fact, if we tripled the growth of our exports to China we could add 0.5 per cent to GDP every year. Winning in China isn’t going to happen overnight or on its own.
This is not about a few more trade trips organised at late notice. It’s about a real national strategy – thought through for the long term.
The original article can be found here: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/debate/columnists/liam-byrne-a-sleeping-dragon-is-awake-and-hungry-for-our-exports-1-6045521
Conference – It’s a privilege to open this debate, a debate we approach with a passion and care.
That’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign of our strength.
We are so much stronger and our policy is so much better for the work of Unison’s Liz Snape, the TUC’s Kay Carberry, for the leaders of our ten biggest councils, to those from business and the third sector who’ve worked so hard on our youth jobs taskforce.
It’s stronger for the Labour councillors all over Britain who have helped us think radically about how we revolutionise the Tories’ failing back to work system.
It’s stronger for Sir Bert Massie, a pioneer of disability rights, for his taskforce, and for the hundreds of disability activists who have helped us think radically about how we make rights a reality for disabled people.
And it’s stronger for all our brilliant PPCs, fighting in key seats, who brought together residents to tell us how they want Labour to rebuild social security and a different kind of Britain.
And what sort of party would we be if we were not passionate about the stories we hear.
Like the woman I met with MS who told me how her carer, her teenage son, had lost all his support; it’s tough she said, for a boy to lose to that help when he knows his mum won’t get better.
Or the Remploy workers on a GMB picket line, fighting for work, who said to me: this isn’t just my job; this is my life.
Or the thousands of young people, I fight for in East Birmingham, hunting for work, who speak of the hundreds of CVs they send and never even get a reply – and still they keep going.
You know, there’s a Tory minister – and I’ll let you guess where he went to school – who tells us: our young people lack grit.
Well, let me tell you this: the young people fighting for work in East Birmingham have got a damn sight more grit than you need to get through Eton College.
Good people all over Britain hear these stories too.
And right now they’re asking themselves what kind of country are we becoming?
Once upon a time the Tories told us they cared: all those speeches in Easterhouse.
And people gave them the benefit of the doubt.
We were promised a Tory party that cared about the poor.
We were promised a welfare revolution.
We were promised we’re all in this together.
Three years on I tell you the jury is in.
A cost of living crisis.
A million young people out of work.
Long term unemployment at record highs.
Disabled people living in fear.
Child poverty rising.
Living standards hammered.
A promise that started in Easterhouse has ended with the spectacle of a Tory Minister, Michael Gove, blaming the poor for the temerity to turn up at a food bank.
He should be ashamed.
Three years on, I tell you the verdict is simple:
These Tories have let their prejudice destroy their policies.
And just as bad as the prejudice is the incompetence.
They say to err is human.
But if you want someone to really screw it up you send for Iain Duncan Smith.
And Conference that’s why we need to fire him.
But let me level with you, we won’t win power with a plan to roll back the clock.
To restore the status quo.
To ignore the calls for change.
The vast majority of people in this country believe the welfare state is one of our proudest creations.
It’s a mark of a civilised society.
But the vast majority don’t believe the system works for them or for modern times.
So let’s not be the defenders of the status quo, we must be the reformers now.
Today life is very different to the days of Beveridge.
The job for life is gone.
If you’re without a skill, you’ll most likely to be without a job.
Two thirds of couples both work – yet struggle with child-care.
Millions struggle on low wages while company profits rise.
Hundreds of thousands save for decades just to buy a home.
We’re aging, and yet fewer have a pension.
Getting a job, setting up home, working as a parent, caring for another, saving for the future.
These are the challenges of the real world you can’t solve by demonising others.
These are the challenges for One Nation Social Security.
And the truth is today the system doesn’t help.
So we need to change the system.
And build a new consensus rooted in our values, our party’s values, our country’s values.
Where we listen not to our demons but to the better angels of our nature.
Were we move from a language of division to a language of respect.
Where we match the personal responsibility to work.
With the collective responsibility to care.
These are the founding principles of the system we built in 1945, and these are the principles we must restore.
And today I want to tell you how.
With the ideas we’ve hammered out in hundreds of conversations and debates all over Britain this last year.
And the cardinal principal is this, full employment first.
Full employment has always been the foundation for rebuilding Britain. It was for Atlee’s Labour, it was for New Labour, it will be for One Nation Labour.
The Tories system doesn’t work.
So we need a better way.
So let’s start with a tax on bankers bonuses’ to fund a job for every young person out of work long term.
But let’s go further.
Let’s take the ideas – like Apprenticeship Agencies, pioneered in Labour Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Newham and Wales.
And use them to revolutionise the path from the classroom to the career.
But, let’s go further.
Let’s stop fighting unemployment with one hand tied behind our back.
Let’s deliver a large devolution of power from the DWP to local councils.
Let’s build a new partnership between our job centres and town halls.
Let councils shape the programmes to get people back to work.
And let’s go further; let’s set a limit on the time we’re prepared to let people languish out of work.
Let’s invest in jobs for anyone out of work for two years, but say it’s got to be a deal.
We’ll invest in new chances, but if you’re fit to work, we’ll insist you take it.
Full employment first, that’s the Labour way.
Conference, any job is better than no job. But a good job is better than a bad one.
When the welfare state was started, its big idea was to ‘minimise disruption to earnings’.
Now our task is different. It’s to ‘maximise potential of earnings’.
That why we need Universal Credit to work.
So if the government won’t act to save it, we will.
The Tories’ system may prove dead on arrival. So we need a better way.
So, today we announce our Universal Credit Rescue Committee.
And I’m grateful to Kieran Quinn, leader of Tameside, the first pathfinder, for his offer to drive our work.
But, we’ll need more.
We’ll need a campaign for the living wage because it is wrong that we are spending the nation’s tax credits propping up low pay at firms with rising profits.
The deal has got to be simple. If your workers help you do well, then you need to give them a pay rise.
We the Labour party stand as the party of work – and the party of better off in work.
But, listen, if we want a new consensus, we need to remember this: if working people are strong, then Britain is strong.
So we should help working people.
Yet, those born in the turbulent world of the 1960’s, pay so much in and get so little out.
It’s wrong and we should change it.
Those in their 50’s are the people who’ve worked most, cared most, served most. And what do they get?
I’ll tell you, nothing.
So let’s bring back an idea from Beveridge.
Extra help for those who’ve paid their dues but are desperate for extra help to work again.
After a lifetime’s working or caring, I think it’s the least we can do.
Conference it’s a modest step – but it’s a big signal.
But, there’s something more.
Like most families in this country, I know that disability can affect anyone.
Therefore it affects us all.
Yet, today disabled people are threatened by hate crime, by Atos and by the Bedroom Tax.
Today we deny disabled people peace of mind, a job, a home and care – and I tell you that is wrong.
We need to change it.
So we will change the law so hate crime against disabled people is treated like every other hate crime.
And I say to David Cameron, Atos are a disgrace, you should sack them and sack them now.
And yes Conference we say the Bedroom Tax should be axed and axed now and if David Cameron won’t drop this hated tax, then we will repeal it.
We’ll protect disabled people in Scotland and across the UK.
Conference, we need a system that delivers the right help to the right people.
So assessments have to stay.
But let’s take Andy Burnham’s idea of whole person care and ask why not bring together health, social care – and the back to work system into one comprehensive service.
That’s what Labour did in Australia.
Let’s see if we can learn from that here.
I’m delighted to announce that Jenny Macklin, a fine Labour politician and the architect of the system down under, is going to help us figure out how.
Conference, nearly 10 years ago many of you helped win a very tough by election.
For nearly a decade I’ve served the poorest constituency in Britain.
I know in power we will have difficult decisions to make.
And I passionately believe we judge our success not by the money we spend but the difference we make.
There is no moral credibility without financial viability.
That’s why we’ll cap social security spending.
But, full employment, fair pay, a return to Beveridge, rights a reality for disabled people, fair pensions not for some but for all.
These are our principles for rebuilding social security for new times.
More than 50 years ago, my hero Clement Attlee, a man with the best hair in Labour history, made his final broadcast to a war weary nation hungry to win the peace.
We call you, he said, to another great adventure, the adventure of civilisation, where all may help to create and share in an increasing material prosperity, free from the fear of want.
That’s the Labour way, that’s the Ed Miliband way, and that’s the way we’ll win.
Under this Government youth unemployment reached a staggering one million young people out of work. Even more face the prospect of a low skill, low paid and insecure job. This has to change.
But we don’t just want to help people to get a job; we want to help those who want to create a job for themselves and for others. An enterprise revolution amongst our young people could help us tackle the scandal of youth unemployment – and help get our country back on its feet. And that’s what we’re setting as a Labour ambition today.
Today, Britain doesn’t do as well as we should in global enterprise league tables. In fact, if we had the same start-up rate as Germany or America, we could create another 200,000 new self-employment opportunities and businesses. That’s the conclusion of a brilliant new report written by Jamie Mitchell, former managing director of Innocent Drinks for Labour’s youth jobs taskforce today.
The report is urgently needed. This week, we learned that the government’s much vaunted plan to help would-be entrepreneurs innovate their way into work is miles short of hitting its target. The New Enterprise Allowance was supposed to support 40,000 people set up shop. But, it’s still 35% short of hitting its goal – and a measly 6% young people have received help. We think we need to do better than that.
Jamie’s recommendations should be read and considered by any one – and any party – who thinks that we can and should do better. Studying the pioneering work of Labour councils all over Britain, along with the great work of the Prince’s Trust and Young Enterprise, Jamie has handed some big conclusions to think on. First, we need to make sure enterprise isn’t just a bolt-on to careers advice. Enterprise needs to be recognised as a big option that’s open. There is no lack of talent, ideas or creativity among our young people. Our problem is that too much of this entrepreneurial energy is unrecognised or unsupported. Right now, JobCentres’ advice is mixed at best and what’s left of our careers service often gives enterprise but a fleeting mention.
Second, Jamie also encourages us to consider whether we could expand the Start Up Loan scheme, targeting young people aged 18-30, and how to put more emphasis on encouraging young unemployed people to consider the New Enterprise Allowance, which is on course to dramatically miss its targets. Local councils needs to follow the example of trail-blazers like Sheffield Council, which has built a team of school enterprise champions, academies like the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy offering enterprise qualifications, business networks offering advice, and universities offering incubator space, advice, training and even grants – all dedicated to boosting the ranks of local young entrepreneurs.
Next, we have to look at enterprise in schools; Young Enterprise for example, reckons that 42% of their alumni start a business during their career. That’s nearly twice the rate for those who join their programme. And finally, we need to think about how we measure outcomes a little better so that we know what works and what doesn’t.
This is a big ambition. It is to the next generation of entrepreneurs that we will look for the businesses that will help our nation thrive in a fast changing world, drive the innovation that will improve our lives, and create the decent jobs we need.
Jamie’s report is about putting entrepreneurship at the heart of our national story and builds on our ambition to make this happen – from our plans for a proper British investment bank with a network of regional banking to help businesses get the finance they need, to a revolution in skills giving firms the support, funding and responsibility to make this happen.
Our challenge is to open the floodgates of opportunity, giving our young people the chance to turn their good ideas into successful businesses.
The Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP is a former technology entrepreneur and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Chuka Umunna MP is Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills
Please click on Enterprise and Youth Unemployment to read the report.
This government promised to fix the system but instead it’s getting worse. Their industrial scale incompetence is losing the tax payer a million pounds a day because of the chaos at headquarters.
We can’t go on like this. David Cameron has now totally lost control of DWP, and with it a third of government spending. He needs to get a grip – fast.
“Benefit errors cost taxpayers £1 million a day” by the Telegraph can be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10307615/Benefit-errors-cost-taxpayers-1-million-a-day.html
David Cameron’s flagship project is now in total chaos.
Parliament’s watchdog has blown apart yet another cover-up by Iain Duncan Smith who it seems has tried to hide further write-offs on his disaster-hit Universal Credit project. We’re now told there was no ministerial accountability and financial control was so weak that secretaries were signing huge purchase orders.
Iain Duncan Smith must now come to the Commons and explain why he tried to hide this from MPs last week. And he must now publish the damning report by his auditors PWC.
As usual with David Cameron’s out of touch Government they try and blame everyone but themselves. We must get to the truth ministers are trying to hide. It’s now clear ministers, not officials got this wrong.
Today’s headline fall in unemployment is welcome, but what today’s figures expose is that while out of touch ministers are boasting, families are battling. They’re battling another fall in wages, another rise in youth unemployment and yet another rise in long term unemployment. There is simply not enough work to go round and the proof is a record high in the number of part-time workers looking for full-time jobs.
Real wages fell yet again by £12 a week; unemployment went up across half of Britain; the youth jobless rate rose by 9,400 and long term unemployment rose yet again. There’s now been an incredible rise of 364,000 part time workers looking for full time jobs since the election.
We can’t go on like this. Under David Cameron, Britain’s cost of living crisis is not improving, it’s intensifying.
We need a recovery that benefits everyone, not just a few at the top. That is why Labour wants to help to make work pay by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, paid for by a mansion tax, and to repeat the tax on bank bonuses to pay for a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people.
Today’s NAO report reveals the extent to which Iain Duncan Smith has lost his grip on Universal Credit, in the face of years of warnings for DWP to get their multi-billion pound scheme back on track.
The damning report lays bare the chaos surrounding the government’s flagship welfare reform.
- Throughout the programme the Department has lacked a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work
- 2017 roll our date now in serious doubt amidst a series of delays
- IT systems scrapped at the cost of millions, and DWP unable to say if its new IT system will support national roll out
- Serious concerns over vulnerability to fraud
- A series of warnings ignored – including from the Major Project Authority
- DWP now unlikely to deliver financial savings promised
Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pension Secretary, said:
“The truth is finally out. Universal Credit is a titanic-sized IT disaster which Iain Duncan Smith has tried to hide with cover up after cover up.
“Mr Duncan Smith swore blind this benefit shake-up was fine. Now we learn he has completely lost control of his department at a potential cost of hundreds of millions of pounds. Incredibly three years on, out of touch ministers still don’t know how things are supposed to work. It is exactly this lack of discipline that has left the social security bill spiraling up and up.
“The Conservatives welfare revolution has now finally collapsed. It is now mission critical that David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith swallow their pride and agree to the cross party talks we proposed in the summer. We cannot risk another day.”
The report states that:
- “Throughout the programme the Department has lacked a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work [para 18]]
- “The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit nationally” and the 2017 roll out date is in serious doubt [para 2.14: The reset team in early 2013 considered different scenarios for rolling out Universal Credit, including completing migration later than October 2017. The current senior responsible owner is looking at different options for the timing of full roll-out”]
- Wasted time and money on failed management and IT mean failure to bring down the costs of social security [2.23 In its December 2012 business case, the Department estimated that Universal Credit would generate benefits to society worth £273 million by 2014-15. The delay in national roll-out will reduce the value of these benefits;
- The Department does not yet know to what extent its new IT systems will support national roll-out.
- “the Department has not achieved value for money” (para 23) and has already written off £34 million in IT assets due to poor management (para 2.20). “Remedial work to make good or replace the IT assets could further increase the Department’s IT budget, which had already increased by 61 per cent (£241 million) between its May 2011 and December 2012 plans” (para 2.21)
- There are serious concerns about fraud under the new scheme: “The Department’s current IT system lacks the ability to identify potentially fraudulent claims” (para 2.17).
- In practice the Department did not have any adequate measures of progress. Major Projects Authority and supplier-led reviews in mid-2012 identified a ‘fortress’ mentality within the programme team and a ‘good news’ reporting culture (paragraph 3.23), Inadequate financial control over supplier spending. (paragraphs 3.24 to 3.26), Ineffective departmental oversight. The the Department has never been able to measure its progress effectively against what it is trying to achieve. (paragraphs 3.11, 3.27 and 3.38).
- DWP repeatedly ignored warnings to get Universal Credit back on track The Department was warned repeatedly about the lack of a detailed ‘blueprint’, ‘architecture’ or ‘target operating model’ for Universal Credit. [Yet] Throughout the programme the Department has lacked a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work. From mid-2012, it became increasingly clear that the Department was failing to address recommendations from assurance reviews. Although the nature and emphasis of its recommendations changed over time, the key areas of concern raised by the Major Projects Authority in February 2013 had appeared in previous reports. From mid-2012, the underlying concerns about how Universal Credit would work meant that the Department could not address recommendations from assurance reviews; it failed to fully implement two-thirds of the recommendations made by internal audit and the Major Projects Authority in 2012. (paragraphs 3.33 to 3.35).
The report is damning about the overall project management:
“The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit to claimants, has had weak control of the programme, and has been unable to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop. These problems represent a significant setback to Universal Credit and raise wider concerns about the Department’s ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic timescales, and a lack of openness about progress.”
Thanks for all those who have got in touch about the debate on Syria in the House of Commons today. Here’s a copy of Labour’s motion that I’ll be supporting. Please do keep on writing in with views.
“This House expresses its revulsion at the killing of hundreds of civilians in Ghutah, Syria on 21 August 2013; believes that this was a moral outrage; recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons; makes clear that the use of chemical weapons is a grave breach of international law; agrees with the UN Secretary General that the UN weapons inspectors must be able to report to the UN Security Council and that the Security Council must live up to its responsibilities to protect civilians; supports steps to provide humanitarian protection to the people of Syria but will only support military action involving UK forces if and when the following conditions have been met:
- The UN weapons inspectors, upon the conclusion of their mission in the Eastern Ghutah, being given the necessary opportunity to make a report to the Security Council on the evidence and their findings, and confirmation by them that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.
- The production of compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of these weapons;
- The UN Security Council having considered and voted on this matter in the light of the reports of the weapons inspectors and the evidence submitted;
- There being a clear legal basis in international law for taking collective military action to protect the Syrian people on humanitarian grounds;
- That such action must have regard to the potential consequences in the region, and must therefore be legal, proportionate, time-limited and have precise and achievable objectives designed to deter the future use of prohibited chemical weapons in Syria; and
- That the Prime Minister reports further to the House on the achievement of these conditions so that the House can vote on UK participation in such action.
- This House further notes that such action relates solely to efforts to deter the use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any wider action in Syria.”