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Category Archives: Economics

Statement on Ofsted’s note on Birmingham Schools – 14 October 2014


Dear friends,


In response to Ofsted’s note, published today, on Birmingham Schools I have issued the following statement?


“This is incredibly frustrating for the parents I’ve been working with non-stop since the summer.


They are being forced to watch Government inaction from the side-lines and Nicky Morgan must remember that it’s their children who are the most important individuals in all of this. Crucially the Government and schools have got to dramatically step up the pace of getting parents involved.


Ultimately schools with strong parents are strong schools.”




Press Release: Liam Byrne condemns George Osborne’s attack on Birmingham’s children – 30 September 2014

Press Release: Liam Byrne condemns George Osborne’s attack on Birmingham’s children

Tuesday 30th September



Liam Byrne today condemned George Osborne’s attack on Birmingham’s children as the politics of ‘you’re on your own’.


George Osborne’s freeze of working age social security payments such as tax credits will trap thousands of Birmingham children living in working families deeper into poverty. Meanwhile the Chancellor also announced a £3 billion-a-year tax cut for the richest 1%.


House of Commons library figures for Birmingham show that 33,900 families are in receipt of working tax credits.


Liam Byrne said:


‘Child poverty already costs our city over £1 billion. Today we needed help. Yet what we got was a fresh attack. Osborne’s attack on help like tax credits is going to plunge yet more children in working families into poverty.


‘Nearly 70% of the people hit the last time the Tories did this were families with children’.


‘Only George Osborne could stand up in the ward with some of the worst child poverty in Britain and announce this fresh attack. He seems determined to ensure a generation of nearly 100,000 Birmingham children grow up in a poverty from which there is no escape’.


Liam Byrne, Cllr John Cotton and Tim Evans earlier this year published Labour’s review of child poverty in Birmingham highlighting the £1 billion cost of child poverty to the city – and the 40% rise in child self-harm cases in city A+E departments since 2009/10. Many health professionals believe this is directly linked to poverty pressure.



Statement on news of National College for High Speed Rail to be located in Birmingham – 20 September 2014


Dear friends,


I am delighted to share with you the news that the Government has today confirmed that both Birmingham and Doncaster will jointly host the new National College for High Speed Rail. This college will train the rail engineers who will work on HS2. The college is expected to be open in 2017.


You can read more here:


In response to the news I have released the following statement:


“This is a big step forward for our great city. Once we were the workshop of the world – and now we’re fighting our way back.


Today’s news is a real credit to the way the city pulled together to get this deal done.


Now we need to complete the picture and press onto relocate the job-killing marshalling yard planned for Washwood Heath. That’s the way we’ll ensure HS2 is 100% good news for our city – and not a mixed blessing.”


With all best wishes




My letter to Sir Albert Bore: “Power to our people: A Birmingham Constitutional Convention” – 19 September 2014


Dear friends,


Please see below my letter to City Council Leader Sir Albert Bore, dated today, entitled “Power to our people: A Birmingham Constitutional Convention”


Letter to Sir Albert Bore - 19 Sept 2014



My letter to Hodge Hill residents: what is Westminster’s vow to Birmingham?


Dear friends


What should be Westminster’s vow to Birmingham?


I’ve spent this week in Glasgow campaigning to keep our country together. I passionately believe that the challenges we have in Hodge Hill are easier to solve if we remain together as one United Kingdom. We had a stake in our Scottish neighbours voting to stay together.


All party leaders have now vowed to devolve more power to Scotland.


Today Ed Miliband has gone a step further and proposed a UK Constitutional Convention to debate more powers to cities like ours in Birmingham.


I am writing to you today to ask: what do you think are the powers that need handing over to Birmingham?


Today I’ve asked Birmingham’s leaders to organise a Birmingham Constitutional Convention. We should debate a simple question: what should be Westminster’s vow to Birmingham?


In Victorian times, Birmingham was known as ‘the best governed city in the world’; above all we were known for thinking radically. One the most famous MP’s to represent the city, the great John Bright once said, ‘Birmingham is radical as the sea is salt’.


Today I say, let’s be the heirs to that tradition. Let’s move quickly to organise a constitutional convention of our own.


I think there are five key powers we need – these are the key powers we need to get our city back to work:


1. Powers, like those in London, to raise revenue from local businesses to reinvest in the city – or to finance tax breaks for innovative or small businesses.


2. Power to help lead a regional Transport Commission, with integrated powers like TfL, and to unlock Birmingham Airport’s potential to become Britain’s fourth hub airport.


3. Power to lead school improvement, to boost the local skills base and improve ‘coasting schools’.


4. Power over Skills Funding Agency budgets, to help boost apprenticeships and gear skills spending to the needs of local employers.


5. Power over housing budgets, including powers to keep savings from Housing Benefit delivered by getting people back to work, to allow the city to help shift money into building homes – providing much needed construction employment.


Next week, I’ll publish a longer draft plan – including thoughts on culture and the arts – to help get the debate in gear.


Let me know what you think – and as this debate unfolds – please get involved!


Very best


Liam Byrne


Statement on Birmingham City Council announcement on the financial situation facing the City – 17 September 2014


Dear friends,


A number of people have been in touch seeking my views in response to the City Council’s announcement yesterday on the dire consequences of the financial situation which the City Council is facing.


My statement is below:


“This government is trying to destroy our city, the safety of our parents’ social care and the strength of our children’s’ services. While leafy Surrey gets more help, we get smashed. We will never forget or forgive the Tories and their Lib Dem friends for what they’ve done to us, our city and our families.”


You can read the City Council announcement here:



‘Giant HS2 yard is ‘battering’ east of the city’ – article in Birmingham Post 8th September 2014


Dear friends,


I wanted to share the Birmingham Post’s article from yesterday on my evidence session at the HS2 Bill Committee earlier last week.


Giant HS2 yard is ‘battering’ east of the city


Loss of Washwood Heath jobs is threat to green belt, warns city MP Liam Byrne       

Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne who thinks the eastern part of Birmingham will be “battered” by the development of HS2


City MP Liam Byrne has said HS2 is “battering” east Birmingham and warned demand for a giant marshalling yard posed a threat to the city’s green belt.

The Hodge Hill MP says thousands of jobs could be created on the former LDV site - with his ward suffering among the highest levels of youth unemployment in the country.

He said a committee hearing at the House of Commons heard that HS2 would create fewer jobs than suggested at a marshalling yard planned for Washwood Heath.

He believes up to 6,500 jobs could be created on the site the size of 100 football pitches to aid an unemployment epidemic in the surrounding area that shows no signs of abating.

Labour MP Mr Byrne also warned that the city would be forced to look at the green belt to claw back industrial land.

The result would be to “concrete over” the Sutton countryside “destroying one of the most beautiful parts of Birmingham”, he warned.

Mr Byrne said that, under pressure at the committee, HS2 representatives admitted they had not factored in the loss of 1,300 jobs from businesses already on site who would be forced to re-locate.

He said: “HS2′s jobs argument has collapsed this morning. They have been forced to admit that their evidence to Parliament was at best a half-truth, and at worst, completely misleading.

“Even the Government now admits that we could create an extra 4,000 jobs in Hodge Hill in the short term. It’s time HS2 now gets serious about giving east Birmingham a boost and not a battering. We’re fighting for jobs – they should be with us and not against us.

“They should certainly come clean to Parliament about the costs of their plan to jobs, lost taxes and lost business rates to the city. The phoney war is now over.”

Mr Byrne has previously said the land represented a third of all industrial land in Birmingham and that owners had already been approached by potential developers. The plan for the site, put together by the city council, would mean skilled jobs.

Instead, from about 2026, the site will be used by HS2 to clean and maintain trains. Until then, it is expected to be used as a yard to store materials during the construction of the line.

The site lies at the junction of Ladywood, Erdington and Hodge Hill – three constituencies which are home to more than 40 per cent of the city’s unemployed.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are confident of the overriding strength of the case for locating the depot at Washwood Heath.

“We have always been very clear that the depot would create 640 jobs with the potential for more jobs through construction works and businesses using the residual land.

“Both Birmingham City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council do not support the alternative proposals because of the associated impacts, including the loss of potential jobs and the significant impact on green belt land without any good justification.”


My appearance at the HS2 Bill Committee – 3 September 2014


News from Liam Byrne MP


HS2 jobs claim destroyed


HS2’s claim that a marshalling yard in East Birmingham will create extra jobs has been destroyed in a committee hearing at the House of Commons this morning.


HS2’s counsel was cross-examining Hodge Hill’s MP, Liam Byrne who was giving evidence to the committee arguing that the marshalling yard should be built outside the city.


HS2’s team then presented evidence admitting that the plan to site marshalling yard at Washwood Heath will create nearly 2,000 fewer jobs – under pressure from Mr Byrne they admitted that they had not factored in the loss of 1,300 jobs from businesses already on site who will be forced to re-locate.


Liam Byrne said:


‘HS2’s jobs argument has collapsed this morning. They have been forced to admit that their evidence to parliament was at best a half-truth, and at worst, completely misleading.


‘Even the government now admits that we could create an extra 4,000 jobs in Hodge Hill in the short term.


‘It’s time HS2 now gets serious about giving east Birmingham a boost and not a battering. We’re fighting for jobs – they should be with us and not against us.


They should certainly come clean to parliament about the costs of their plan to jobs, lost taxes and lost business rates to the city. The phoney war is now over. It’s time for HS2 to get round the table and give us a better plan.’






-          The proposed site is the size of 100 football pitches and makes up one third of the industrial land in Birmingham. It lies at the junction of Ladywood, Erdington and Hodge Hill – these three constituencies are together home to over 40% of the City’s unemployed.


-          Liam Byrne was giving evidence to the HS2 bill committee this morning. You can find more information on the work of the committee here:


-          Mr Byrne has consistently argued that HS2 should not build their marshalling yard in Washwood Heath and Hodge Hill.


-          Most recently he secured a Westminster Hall Debate on the siting of the Marshalling Yard at Washwood Heath. You can read the full text of the debate here:


-          In the 18 June 2014 debate the Minister responding admits that the government own estimate is that 3,700 jobs could be created on the site if the planned marshalling yard did not go ahead.


-          Latest unemployment figures for Hodge Hill:

Unemployment – July 2014


Hodge Hill            5,181                     11.6 %

West Mids          107,043                 4.0 %

UK                          995,835                 3.2 %


Youth Unemployment (18-24) – July 2014


Hodge Hill            1,415                     10.7 %

West Mids          26,185                   4.9 %

UK                          239,345                 4.0 %


Long-term Unemployment – July 2014

(Claims of duration over 12 months)


Hodge Hill            1,945                     (fall since July 2013) -355               -15.4%

UK                          303,160                 (fall since July 2013) -119,470      -28.3


“The long-term unemployment figures have fallen in Hodge Hill (in line with the trend nationally) but they have fallen at almost half the rate of the figures from across the UK.”


Hodge Hill rankings (out of 650 constituencies) July 2014:


Claimant rate:                                                    4th highest;        11.6%

Number of Claimants:                                    4th highest;        5,181

Claimants aged 18-24:                                    1st highest;         1,415

Claims of duration over 12 months:         3rd highest;        1,945


Responses to ‘Robbins Rebooted’ – 28 August 2014


Dear friends,


I’ve been delighted by the response to my pamphlet, ‘Robbins Rebooted’, where I set out the terms for a 21st Century debate on the future of higher education. Below is a short selection of responses so far from higher education stakeholders.


  • The Higher Education Policy Institute referred to the pamphlet as ‘wide-ranging and well-informed’. Their full comment can be seen here.


  • Million+ stated that ‘Nine months ahead of the general election it is good to see political parties contributing to the debate on higher education policy’. Their full response is here.


  • University Alliance ‘welcomed this timely addition to the higher education debate’. See their response here.


  • The Russell Group felt that Robbins Rebooted was a ‘…thoughtful addition to the higher education debate.’ See their comments here.


  • The University and College Union (UCU) said this ‘contribution…should kick-start the debate’. Their response is here.


  • The 157 Group welcomed the ‘the continued emphasis on creating sustainable high-quality vocational pathways for more and more young people’. See their response here.



Liam Byrne publishes ‘Robbins Rebooted’ – laying out a vision for 21st Century Higher Education and university reform – 28 August 2014


Dear friends,


Today the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has published my pamphlet entitled ‘Robbins Rebooted’.


You can view an electronic version of the pamphlet here.


In it I set out options for reform of Britain’s universities to boost the country’s knowledge economy and open high paying technical and professional jobs to the ‘forgotten 50 per cent’.


These options draw together hundreds of conversations that I have had with university and college leaders, academics and students over the last six months in Britain, Europe, India and China.


Invoking the ‘white heat’ message of Harold Wilson’s government, elected 50 years ago this year, I argue that reformed universities are now key to fostering more high paid jobs in the ‘light speed’ global digital economy.


The following are the ‘big five’ ideas which university and college leaders, students, teachers and researchers want to hear debated:


1. ‘Technical Universities’, a collaboration of employers, major university science and engineering departments and colleges, offering students the chance to study a new ‘earn while you learn’ ‘Technical Degree’

2. A revolution in links between colleges and universities based on the US-style community college movement.

3. Reform of research funding to support British universities in creating global ‘Star Alliances’ of the world’s best scientists with longer term research support.

4. A big increase in university enterprise zones to better link universities to regional growth.

5. A new revolution in access to higher education, with a new national advice service to support young people into higher academic and technical education, support for university-school trusts, an expansion of the Open University’s Massive Open Online Courses and a new partnership between the Workers’ Education Association and UnionLearn.


I would love to hear your reflections on the pamphlet so please do get in touch.


With all best wishes




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