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Category Archives: Economics

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




Unemployment in Hodge Hill continues to fall – July 2014


Dear friends,


Brilliant news, the monthly figures from the Office of National Statistics show that unemployment has fallen again in Hodge Hill.


The number of unemployed claimants in the constituency of Birmingham, Hodge Hill in June 2014 was 5,224. 


That’s a 155 lower than in May 2014 and a whopping 1296 lower than in June 2013.


Despite this great news we can’t become complacent; I will continue to campaign to see more jobs come to Hodge Hill, particularly for our young people.


All the best




Launch of Birmingham Labour Child Poverty Report 2014


Dear friends,


Today Cllr John Cotton and I published Birmingham Labour’s hard-hitting report into the growing scandal of child poverty in the city.


The evidence is set out in the final report of the Birmingham Labour Child Poverty review which has investigated the issue over the last six months – to read the report click here


The review found:

• A huge 20 per cent rise over the last year in children arriving in the city’s A&E departments, having self-harmed
• A 40 per cent rise in child self-harm cases in A&E since 2009/2010.
• Nearly a third of the city’s children – 84,114 – now live in poverty in Birmingham
• Birmingham’s child poverty now costs an estimated £914 million in extra services such as education, healthcare and benefits, as well as, lost tax receipts and lost earnings


The report’s main recommendation has led to plans for a new Child Poverty Commission for the city to coordinate action to support parents.


Liam Byrne said;


‘The scandal of child poverty in our city is a moral crisis and we simply refuse to stand by and do nothing. The child poverty crisis may now have triggered a huge increase in the number of our children so desperate that they try and take their own lives or self-harm.


This report is a wake-up call for Birmingham and for Britain. We may not have a government that cares but we can still take action ourselves.


Our new Child Poverty Commission must now call to action our business leaders, our teachers, NHS and the DWP to act together to make a difference. We cannot pretend this isn’t happening in our community.


We have to declare now that we will act together to end this scandal.’


John Cotton said:


“The fact that a third of Birmingham’s kids are growing up below the poverty line isn’t just a moral outrage, it’s an act of social and economic sabotage.


Continuing to tolerate a situation in which another generation is trapped in poverty, unemployment or low paid, insecure work doesn’t just hold back individuals, it holds back our city as a whole.


We can – and must – do more to fight poverty in all its forms”.


Tim Evans, co-author of the report, said:


“The best policies are made when we listen. As we listened to stories of people struggling, both our understanding and anger grew.


As we listened to committed people in the public and voluntary sector, to people of faith, we realised that harnessing people’s desire to tackle this moral and economic issue, based on real life experience, was the way forward.


So I am delighted to see the establishment of a Child Poverty Commission to co-ordinate this energy and transform the life chances of children in Birmingham.”



To read the report click here.


With all best wishes





My statement on the announcement of the HS2 Construction HQ in Birmingham – 21 July 2014


Dear friends,


Earlier today HS2 Ltd, along with Birmingham City Council, launched the city’s Urban Regeneration Company and announced the location of the HS2 Construction HQ. You can see my statement below:



“HS2 belongs in Birmingham. The arrival of 1,500 permanent jobs is fantastic news, and it provides a welcome boost to the growth of our City.
But this announcement underlines the need for a new deal for East Birmingham where the HS2′s marshalling yard has wiped out the chance to create 3,500 private sector jobs.
So today I’ve written to David Higgins, Chariman of HS2 Ltd, to begin talks on how we maximise the jobs boost for East Birmingham.”




My question to Nicky Morgan MP at Education Questions – 21 July 2014


Dear friends,


In her first appearance in the chamber as Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan was answering questions from MPs this afternoon.


I pressed her on the issue of the leaked conclusions of Peter Clarke’s report into Birmingham Schools, you can see a read-out of our exchange below.


I will be pressing her on this issue again at her statement tomorrow.




Mr Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab):The Secretary of State will know that I have worked for five months to uncover problems at Park View school. The leader of Birmingham city council has apologised for the city’s role in the historic failures. Will she apologise to my constituents for what Peter Clarke has called the “benign neglect” of Park View since it became an academy two years ago, and will she respond positively to my letter of last week, which called for a new joint director of school standards in Birmingham so that this never happens again?
Nicky Morgan:The right hon. Gentleman will have heard my earlier answers in which I said that these matters will be discussed more fully tomorrow on publication of the Clarke report. I pay tribute to the work that the right hon. Gentleman has done. I have his letter and will respond to it.



‘The market is failing – we need a new way forward’ my piece for the Evening Standard – 17 July 2014


Dear friends,



Earlier this week I became Chair of the APPG on Inclusive Growth at the group’s inaugural meeting.



To mark the occasion I have written a piece for the Evening Standard which was published this afternoon. See below.



All the best








Liam Byrne: The market is failing – we need a new way forward


A fresh consensus is emerging about how Britain must think long-term to remain globally competitive



The puppets are for the chop. Earlier this week, Wonga’s loveable grandparents flogging payday loans on children’s TV were dispatched in the UK by the firm’s new chairman. It comes at a time when shareholder activism is on the rise, with a number of eye-wateringly large pay deals for top executives shot down by shareholders. The conscience of corporate Britain is rumbling as unease with Britain’s malfunctioning marketplace deepens.

So it should. With this week’s good job news has come fresh evidence of the squeeze on pay packets. Inflation has jumped to a five-month high. Meanwhile, the Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that the under-30s lost 13 per cent of household income, from 2007 to 2013 — nearly twice the hit taken by the older generation.


It is becoming harder than ever to earn a decent living — and if we don’t fix this soon, we’ll face not just an economic problem but a profound moral challenge. Hard work is hard-wired into Britain’s psyche and our moral code. This was supposed to be the deal: hard work got you on in life. Yet Britain’s families are working harder and going backwards, £1,600 a year worse off now, on average, than in 2010.


It’s not just a question of fairness: it doesn’t make business sense either. As someone who established my own company, I know very well that virtues such as trust, integrity and stability drive consumer confidence. They are the keystone of capitalism.


We can’t go on like this. Nearly 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan spoke for a new generation of neo-liberals, declaring that “government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem”. Today the market is the problem: together, business and policy-makers are going to have to fix it.


So this week a cross-party group of parliamentarians has come together to find answers to the challenge of how we fix our malfunctioning markets and reconnect hard work with getting on in life. Our goal is simple: to build a new consensus on how we can change the rules of the game.


Since the Second World War we’ve enjoyed two grand phases of consensus that connected business and government in pursuit of the common good. After the war, we called it “Butskellism”, a marriage of ideas epitomised by the calm moderation of the Tories’ Rab Butler and Labour’s Hugh Gaitskell. The second phase was the neo-liberal consensus, born in the storms of the late Seventies and now in its death throes.


It’s time for a new approach: a “third wave” of consensus to reset the rules. There’s already plenty on which we can agree.


First, business and politicians know money markets need to act for the long term rather than the short term. The disastrous behaviour of the interest-rate riggers and the high-frequency traders portrayed in Michael Lewis’s new book Flash Boys epitomises a fill-your-boots piracy that destroys a firm’s ability to think long term.


It’s not just capital markets that need reform — it’s labour markets too. Unless we boost skills, it’s hard to give workers a pay rise. I think there’s wide consensus about what needs to change.


Lord Baker’s work on university technical colleges exemplifies an ambition to build a high-quality vocational route to better skills. Ed Miliband, Tristram Hunt and I have put that at the core of a new offer for a vocational path to degree-level training for the “forgotten 50 per cent”, those who do not want to pursue the traditional academic route.


Third, we can agree that a bigger, better business-government partnership in science and technology is vital to winning the race to the top, boosting productivity and jobs in and around Tech City, the Crick Institute and the spin-outs around London’s universities. The foundations of this “supply side” boost were built by Peter Mandleson and Lord Sainsbury, and were respected by the Tories’ David Willetts, who left government this week.


Abroad, business and government should agree that “good growth” is easier if markets are bigger, which is why we should be at the heart of Europe. At home, there is broad agreement that a radical devolution of power is vital if big parts of Britain aren’t left to languish. “Inclusive growth” is not just about who prospers, it’s about where prospers — an idea championed by Lords Adonis and Heseltine in their plans to return power to our cities.


We cannot avoid some issues where consensus will be harder but where the status quo is not an option: making sure companies pay their taxes and don’t rig markets to short-change consumers and cheat their competition.


Indeed, hard-headed Tories such as Lord Heseltine and Richard Harrington, who have real experience of running large businesses, recognise that the market needs to work in a more sustainable way. It needs to respect its consumers and its employees, making a profit while not becoming immersed in a race to the bottom that, in the end, hurts most businesses as much as it hurts working families.


From boardrooms to Westminster, we need to crystallise this “new consensus”. For a decade and more, the price and prize of globalisation have not been fairly shared. Yet we risk a new era of inequality if we don’t get our act together. The new potential of trade and technology is accelerating the “second machine age”, where from driverless cars to automated checkouts, technology wipes out both blue and white-collar jobs, concentrating riches in the hands of a tiny global elite.


The founders of the greatest traditions in British capitalism — leaders such as George Cadbury, William Lever and John Spedan Lewis — knew that “enlightened self-interest” was always the best way to do business. If we want to build a great society in a global economy, reformers need to join together now: we’re running out of time.


Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP is chairman of the newly formed All Party Group on Inclusive Growth.



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