Category Archives: Labour market

Visit to Washwood Heath Jobcentre

Dear friends,

It was great to visit the jobcentre in Washwood Heath today and talk to the local team. They do some really great work helping people find employment and work experience.

Here are some photos from the visit:



All the best,


The Tories Trade Unions Bill is an attack on working people and on the Labour Party


Dear friends,


Last night Parliament saw the second reading of this Tory Government’s Trade Union Bill.


The Labour party is completely united in its opposition to this pernicious Bill and I voted against it at second reading last night.


This Bill is a cynical attack against working people and the brilliant work of trade unions all over our country. Not since the 1980’s has there been such a dramatic shift in industrial relations law. This divisive piece of legislation puts to bed any notion that the Government is taking a one nation approach.


The Government is using this to attack the Labour Party and the support it receives from Trade Unions but this attack on people’s rights affects all trade unions, not just unions affiliated to the Labour Party. The six million members of trade unions – from teachers to bakers, office workers to nurses, engineers to shop assistants – all will be affected.


The principal concerns with the Bill are as follows:


  • Place curbs and restrictions on the right to strike with a 50% turnout thresholds in all strike ballots and 40% affirmative vote of all those entitled to vote in ‘important’ public services


  • Employers will be able to break strikes by bringing in agency workers to replace strikers. This could risk public safety and impact on the quality of services.


  • The Bill promises big new restrictions on pickets and protests. Striking workers will have to tell their employer all their plans – including what they will post on Facebook or Twitter or whether they will use a loudspeaker – two weeks before the strike.


  • The Government will also take the power to reduce the statutory right of trade union officials to paid time off, which will limit the ability workers to stand up for decent services and safety at work, or defend their jobs or pay.


  • If the government is worried about union democracy, they should end the ban on unions balloting online and in the workplace and let us use modern voting methods to increase turnout.


Unfortunately the Government was victorious in the vote last night. But I will be seeking to work with both my parliamentary colleagues from across the Labour party and our friends in the Trade Unions movement to ensure that this malicious piece of legislation stopped.


With all best wishes





Unemployment figures – July 2015

Dear friends,

I thought I would share with you some figures from the House of Commons Library on unemployment in Hodge Hill which I’ve received today.

The total number of unemployed claimants in Birmingham, Hodge Hill constituency in July 2015 was 3,999.

This is 1182 lower than in July 2014 and 14 lower than in June 2015.

This represents a rate of 8.8% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64, the 4th highest of the 650 UK constituencies. (1st = highest claimant rate, 650th = lowest claimant rate.) This includes 3,708 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and 291 people who were claiming Universal Credit but were not in employment. Some of these Universal Credit claimants may no longer be seeking work.

The total number of unemployed young people in Hodge Hill (18-24 year old Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants) is 985, representing a rate of 7.3%. The total number of claimants is 430 lower than in July 2014 and 8 lower than in June 2015. These data are not seasonally adjusted.

Birmingham City Council have also provided me with their findings from this latest batch of unemployment figures which you can read here. You will note that the unemployment rate in Hodge Hill (8.8%) is higher than the overall rate for Birmingham (5.8%), the West Midlands (2.9%) and the UK (2.4%).

Whilst I am pleased that the number of unemployed claimants in Hodge Hill has fallen slightly, the level of unemployment and in particular, youth unemployment, is still unacceptably high.

After five years in Government the Tories are still not doing enough to help people in Hodge Hill find work.

I will continue to keep putting pressure on the government to deliver for Hodge Hill.

All the best,



EDM on End of Production for the Land Rover Defender


Dear friends,


I have today tabled an Early Day Motion to commemorate the very sad news that production of the classic Land Rover Defender is drawing to a close in the West Midlands.

You can read the text of the EDM below and see who else has signed it here:

“That this House records with great pride the production of the two-millionth Land Rover Defender; salutes the extraordinary achievement of Land Rover’s designers and workers in creating a world-renowned British classic; and notes with great sadness the end of an era as production draws to an end, but looks forward to an ever brighter future for the UK automotive sector in the years to come.”



Statement on HEPI research on student migration – 25 June 2015


Dear friends,


Today HEPI has released the findings of it’s recent survey of students’ attitudes towards studying alongside international students.


Here’s my statement in response:


“If we want to lead the world in science, research and new technologies then the free movement of students and scientists is key. Today’s research from HEPI show that our home students know that already. 

We have to ensure that our country is connected to the best brainpower, wherever it happens to be born. 

If we want to lead the world then we must look again at the current post-study work visa arrangements.”


You can read the report here:


The reports key findings:


  • The vast majority (86%) of undergraduate students in the UK study alongside international students. Only 10% say they do not. A relatively high proportion of students in London and Scotland (both 95%) and a relatively low proportion of students in the West Midlands (74%) say they study alongside people from other countries.
  • A majority of students (54%) think international students work ‘much harder’ or ‘a little harder’ than home students and only 4% think they work ‘less hard’ or ‘much less hard’. One third (33%) think they work the same and 9% say they don’t know.
  • The results vary by residency, with 52% of home students, 67% of EU students and 69% of non-EU international students saying international students work either ‘a little harder’ or ‘much harder’ than UK students.
  • Over three-quarters of respondents say studying alongside people from other countries ‘is useful preparation for working in a global environment’ (33% ‘strongly agree’ and 45% ‘agree’). However, students from other countries were more than twice as likely to ‘strongly agree’ (29% for UK students, 65% for students from the EU and 62% for other students from abroad).
  • Although the number of non-UK students in the survey was small, they were also typically more positive about the other benefits and less negative about the potential disadvantages: for example, only 12% of UK students ‘strongly agree’ that studying alongside international students helps them develop a global network compared to 37% of EU and 47% of non-EU students.
  • One-in-four students think international students need more attention from lecturers (26%) and slow down the class due to language issues (25%) but two-thirds disagree that the presence of international students reduces the quality of the academic discussions (65%).
  • The majority of students (75%) are agnostic about whether their lecturers come from other countries, although twice as many (16%) hope to have some lecturers from abroad as hope they do not have any (8%). Students in the north east are the least favourable towards international staff, with 6% wanting to have some lecturers from abroad and 17% per cent hoping they do not. Those studying in Scotland are notably more favourable, with 22% hoping to have some lecturers from abroad and only 3% wanting none.



Unemployment figures – March 2015

Dear Friends,

I thought I would share with you some figures from the House of Commons Library on unemployment in Hodge Hill.  The total number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in Birmingham, Hodge Hill constituency in February 2015 was 4,461. This represents a rate of 9.8% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64, the 4th highest of the 650 UK constituencies. (1st = highest rate of unemployment, 650th = lowest rate of unemployment.)

The number of claimants is 1397 lower than in February 2014 and 8 higher than in January 2015.  These data are not seasonally adjusted.


All the best,



East Birmingham Growth Prospectus – 24 February 2015


Dear friends,

I wanted to share with you a copy of the East Birmingham Growth Prospectus which I launched this morning. 

East Brum Prospectus for Growth Front Cover


This is the biggest plan for jobs in East Birmingham we’ve ever had. It was hard fought. But by demanding the government, the Council and HS2 pull together we’ve got an amazing plan for jobs and skills. At Washwood Heath we’ve forced HS2 to look at new plans to ensure 2,334 jobs are created rather than a giant train carpark – plus a £1 million investment in skills for local people and the City Council’s regeneration plan. It’s a once in a generation opportunity to transform our local economy.

LB with Cllrs and MPs at WashwoodHeath

Liam with Jack Dromey MP, Shabana Mahmood MP and Cllrs Ansar Ali Khan and Mohammed Idrees at the old LDV site in Washwood Heath – a centrepiece of the new plan


You can find the full press release with statements from Shabana Mahmood MP and Jack Dromey MP here.


The news was covered by both the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Mail.


Washwood Heath jobs boost as HS2 gives up claim on development land

HS2 land freed to create over 2,000 jobs in Washwood Heath


With all best wishes




Byrne welcomes HS2 Committee call for Plan B at Washwood Heath – 19 December 2014



Byrne welcomes HS2 Committee call for Plan B at Washwood Heath


Liam Byrne MP has welcomed a major breakthrough in the battle for jobs at the LDV-Alstom site earmarked for a marshalling yard.


Following a major campaign led by Liam Byrne MP. The HS2 Bill Committee has ordered the Government and HS2 Ltd to change their plans to maximise the number of jobs on the site.


Although the committee has not ordered the marshalling yard to be moved, the committee have ordered HS2 to report on how they will work with site owners.


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 45% of the City’s unemployed.


The site owners, together with Liam Byrne MP, have now submitted a ‘Plan B’ proposal that would see  2,334 jobs be created.



Liam Byrne MP said:


“This is a real breakthrough. The HS2 Committee has heard our call for jobs. Now HS2 Ltd must work with us on a Plan B that could see 2,334 jobs created in the inner city.”



Lorely Burt MP for Solihull said today:


“I have long argued for jobs to be protected at Washwood Heath whilst also being conscious of not damaging UK Central’s prospects for delivery. The Select Committee’s decision on Washwood Heath is quite obviously a ‘win-win-win’. A win for the people of Washwood Heath, Solihull and also HS2. Now we need HS2 to engage fully with all interested parties to deliver the 2300 private sector jobs set out in the alternative plans referred to by the Committee plus the 600+ new railway jobs as soon as possible.”


Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden said today:


“The decision from the Select Committee is common sense in action in relation to the Washwood Heath site.  This is a win-win situation where HS2 get to build some of the infrastructure they need while the rest of the site can be used to create many more jobs, without needing to displace the marshalling yards into my constituency.  HS2 should now engage and respond positively to the AXA proposals. Anything less would not be in accordance with the Select Committee’s wishes.”






Notes to editors:


Statement from Robert Syms MP (Chairman, HS2 Select Committee) dated 16th December 2014:


“On Washwood Heath, we were impressed by the submission from AXA and our colleague Liam Byrne and we sympathise with the need to address high unemployment in and around his constituency.  We do not believe there is enough evidence to support a move of the RSMD from Washwood Heath.  We impress on HS2 the need to adjust the scheme so there is minimum land take and for the shortest time … We expect to hear from HS2 on that and on whether they can reach agreement on that taking account of the more recent AXA proposals which are dated 12th December.”



Birmingham City Council sees further fall in unemployment – December 2014

Dear Friends,


Great news, figures released today from the Office of National Statistics show that unemployment continues to fall in Hodge Hill – 17 December 2014.


The number of unemployed claimants in Birmingham, Hodge Hill as of November 2014 was 4,479.  This represents a rate of 9.9% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64.


This number is far too high and there is still much work to be done, but the new figures show that the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance (JSA) is 1473 lower than November 2013 and 263 lower than October 2014.


These figures show that Birmingham City Council’s efforts to tackle unemployment are making a real difference here in Hodge Hill – we will continue to fight to get more people into better jobs.

All the best,



My statement on the government’s apprenticeship numbers: just more smoke and mirrors – 9th December 2014

Responding to Vince Cable’s announcement on apprenticeship numbers, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills Liam Byrne MP said:

“Today’s announcement is just more smoke and mirrors from ministers. We need more top quality apprenticeships and more opportunities for young people. But we’ve had the exact opposite under this government as we’ve seen apprenticeship starts for young people – and apprenticeship starts overall – fall in the last academic year, while the Tory-led government has opposed Labour’s plans to use government procurement to create thousands of new high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.”


1. The government’s provisional statistics on apprenticeships show that the number of opportunities for under 25s numbers has fallen compared to the previous year. The figures also showed that the total of apprenticeship starts has also fallen from 2013.

2. Today just 16,000 out of 640,000 apprenticeships reach degree level skills. Since 2010 there are now 17,000 fewer apprenticeships for under-19 year olds.