Category Archives: Youth unemployment

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,



Byrne secures Ministerial assurances on HS2 Washwood Heath site

News from Liam Byrne MP

Immediate Release                                                              23 June 2015


Byrne secures Ministerial assurances on HS2 Washwood Heath site


Liam Byrne MP has welcomed Minister Robert Goodwill MP’s offer to meet with him and HS2 officials to discuss their plans for Washwood Heath. A breakthrough in the battle for jobs at the LDV-Alstom site earmarked for a marshalling yard.


Late last year the HS2 Bill committee ordered HS2 Ltd to work with the site owners at Washwood Heath to adapt their plans in order to maximise the number of jobs on the site.


After months of intransigence from HS2 over their plans for the site Liam Byrne MP has today secured assurances from the Minister Robert Goodwill MP that land take will be minimised and that he will meet with Liam Byrne MP and HS2 officials to find a way forward.


The proposed Washwood Heath 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.


Speaking after the debate Liam Byrne MP said:


“I was pleased to receive an assurance from the Minister this afternoon that he will ensure that HS2 work with the landowners at the Washwood Heath site to find a way forward. I will be writing to him this evening taking up his offer to convene a meeting between himself and officials to discuss this matter further.


We cannot waste any more time.


Our area needs the vital jobs that could be created on that site. HS2 Ltd must adapt their plans to ensure that as many jobs as possible are created at Washwood Heath, as quickly as possible.”



Notes to Editors:

An extract from Hansard 23 June 2015:


Liam Byrne: Do I take it, therefore, that the Minister will use his good offices to ensure that HS2 will indeed honour the recommendations that the Committee hands down to it? If those commitments are not honoured, the integrity of the process will be called into serious question.


Mr Goodwill: Absolutely, and I think I have already given that assurance about land being released as soon as possible. If necessary, I will have a meeting with the right hon. Gentleman, with officials, so that we can get some assurances that, I hope, will satisfy him.


You can access the full transcript of today’s exchange in the House of Commons here:


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.”


Letter from Liam Byrne MP to Minister Robert Goodwill MP:


Robert Goodwill MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport

Department for Transport,

Great Minster House,

33 Horseferry Road,

London, SW1P 4DR

23 June 2015

Dear Robert,


Meeting with HS2 officials on Washwood Heath RSMD site


Following our exchange in the House earlier today I am writing to take up your offer to meet, along with HS2 officials, to secure assurances on HS2 Ltd’s plans for the Washwood Heath RSMD site.


As I explained earlier, I have deep concerns about HS2 Ltd’s response to the Chair of the HS2 Bill Committee’s statement of 16 December 2014; “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.”


I will ask my office to contact yours to find an appropriate date for a meeting.


With all best wishes,





Liam Byrne MP

Member of Parliament for Birmingham Hodge Hill


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




Birmingham Labour sets out bold plans for 9,000 jobs in East Birmingham – 24 February 2015


Birmingham Labour sets out bold plans for 9,000 jobs in East Birmingham


The City Council’s East Birmingham Growth Prospectus, backed by a new plan for the old LDV-Alstom marshalling yard, and £1 million skills investment by the government was launched today by East Birmingham’s three MP’s and Council leader, Sir Albert Bore.


Liam Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, who has spent the last three years helping nurture and coordinate the plans today heralded the breakthrough as a ‘triple win’ for the city.


The plan has identified 3.7 million sq.ft of new employment floorspace as home for 9,000 new jobs including 3,000 jobs at Bordesley Park, and 1,000 new homes and improvements to local community and shopping provision in the Eastern Triangle – including Shard End.


Alongside the City Council’s East Birmingham Growth Prospectus, the MP’s have secured Parliamentary backing for a Plan B at the old LDV-Alstom marshalling yard, creating space for 2,334 jobs, and £1 million for investment in skills to be delivered through a new joint venture, chaired by Council chief executive, Mark Rogers.


Speaking at the former Alstom and LDV site in Washwood Heath,


Liam Byrne MP said: “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. Here 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.”


Jack Dromey MP said: “Our city has a great industrial tradition. We want Birmingham once again to be the workshop of the world, the city of a thousand trades. The constituencies we are proud to represent suffer from high unemployment and an acute shortage of affordable housing. This bold joint-initiative with Birmingham City Council will create badly-needed jobs and build baldy-needed homes, transforming East Birmingham into an economic power-house.”


Shabana Mahmood MP said: “Unemployment and worklessness has remained stubbornly high in East Birmingham for too long. This detailed plan for jobs provides a real opportunity; it recognises that it’s not enough to give people skills, we have to ensure there are skilled jobs for them to go into as well. In addition, we will keep up our pressure on HS2 bosses to ensure that the old LDV-Alston marshalling yard is used to create even more jobs locally – rather than the giant train carpark some envisage.”



1)      Contact Deborah Harries at Birmingham City Council for further details on the East Birmingham Growth Prospectus., 0121 303 4777.

2)      Liam Byrne MP, Jack Dromey MP and Shabana Mahmood MP, as well as a number of local council candidates will be doing a photocall at the Washwood Heath / old LDV site on Tuesday morning at 10:15

3)      For further details please contact James Pignon at or on 0207 219 6953

Building the British ‘Dual System’ – my speech to the 2015 Skills Summit

“Building the British ‘Dual System’”

A speech to the 2015 Skills Summit by Liam Byrne MP,

Shadow Minister for Universities, Science & Skills

Westminster Central Hall, 12th February 2015


It’s a great pleasure to join you at the last skills summit before the election.

I’d like to congratulate you on such a successful programme this year; I hope you got a bit of light and not just the heat of the parties’ pre-election manoeuvres.

This is a great week to be here.

While we might lack a little of the glamour of the weekend’s BAFTAs today, I think it’s worth reflecting on what a brilliant country we live in. Where one of our greatest scientists, Stephen Hawking is celebrated at one of the greatest cultural events of the year. We’re brilliant at science and technology in the country. We know it and we have known it for centuries. Indeed we’ve been burying our scientists with our sovereigns since the death of Sir Isaac Newton.

Yet companies like Jaguar Land Rover show how science and technology are not just a nice part of our history, science and technology are part of our future. A little known fact is that a Jaguar model XJ needs around a 100 million lines of software code.

The question for policy makers is whether our performance is going to match our potential. And the argument I want to make this afternoon is that we’ll fail unless we crack on and build a British ‘dual system’ with a strong new path to technical and professional skills – much like the system we designed for the Germans, 70 years ago, but forgot to build ourselves.

Now we’ve long had this problem.

Indeed Lord Percy, in his report to parliament in 1944 concluded that:

“The position of Great Britain as a leading industrial nation is being endangered by a failure to secure the fullest possible application of science to industry… and…this failure is partly due to deficiencies in education.”

What was true in 1944 is true today.

The challenges is that the skills crisis is getting worse.

Business leaders like Mike Wright at Jaguar Land Rover tell us that:

“We are not educating nearly enough skilled apprentices or graduates to replace those retiring from manufacturing roles…”

Firms have had to sponsor in 282,000 people from abroad over the course of this parliament because they could not get the skills they need here in this country. As someone who represents the constituency with the highest youth unemployment in Britain I can tell you that that is just not good enough.

But you’ll forgive me for arguing that the Government is destroying our chances to build a ‘dual system’ of the sort that works so well on the continent.

When Labour was last in government we left strong foundations: we rescued the apprenticeship system and rebuilt our FE colleges.

But a good ‘dual system’ needs good technical education that starts in all our schools, yet over the last few years there’s been a 16% increase in unqualified teachers.

A good ‘dual system’ needs a good careers service but the CBI says that the careers system is currently “on life support”.

A good ‘dual system’ needs strong further education yet post 19 FE funding has been cut by 40% and Mr Cameron has refused to promise to protect it in the years to come.

A good ‘dual system’ needs a big, high quality apprenticeship system – but apprenticeships for the under 25s are falling and most are at Level 2 not Level 3 or higher.

A good ‘dual system’ needs the freedom to take a technical, professional path to degree level skills – but only 2% of apprentices do and there’s been a 40% fall in those starting HNCs, HNDs and foundation degrees.

Today those on a professional and technical path, from the age of 14, pass through systems overseen by Ofqual, Ofsted, the AQA, the EFA, the SFA and HEFCE. It’s a dog’s breakfast and it needs to change.

I think there’s a better way forward and I want to set out today the building blocks in building the British ‘dual system’.

First, everyone from the age of 14 must be able to access some kind of technical education.

Second, it’s patently obvious we need to rebuild a careers service incorporating the extraordinary success of initiatives like the Skills Show.

Third, we need a high-quality, gold standard technical baccalaureate and of course everyone needs to study English and Maths up to the age of 18.

Fourth, we need a new degree of specialisation in our colleges, which is why Institutes of Technical Excellence are such a welcome idea.

Fifth, our apprenticeship system needs to be bigger and better: we should be sending as many young people onto an apprenticeship as to university.

Apprenticeships should be studied to Level 3 and crucially we need a huge expansion in the number of apprenticeships at degree level, Level 4 and above – much in the way that Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce and BAE System have pioneered.

That is why we’ve said Technical Degrees – what I’ve called ‘earn while you learn’ degrees – are our priority for expanding higher education.

That in turn will require our FE colleges and our universities to join together, in what I’ve called Technical Universities, to offer students a clear flight path to degree level skills.

Now building this ‘dual system’ won’t be free – it needs a strong system of further education as a strong spine in the system.

That is why today I’m confirming Labour’s plans to protect in real terms the budget for 16-19 further education, local authority and other maintained 6th Forms, 16-18 apprenticeships and 16-19 bursary funding. Today these add up to about £8bn of public spending but protecting this in real terms will be worth £8.4bn by 2018/19.

In my research I’ve written about a new competitive threat to this country from rising economies from Germany to Guangzhou.

I know that if we want to live better than others we have to be better than others. That means building a skills system that gets everybody, not just some, to the very highest levels of their potential.

Only in that way can we offer a future that is optimistic and ambitions.

Only in that way can we be a country that is full of hope and not a country that is facing the future with fear.

Thank you.





Press coverage of my A13 trip – urging students ‘use your vote’


Dear Friends

Last week I had the pleasure of getting out on the road (motoring down the A13) to meet young people and talk about their aspirations for the future.


It was an invigorating trip and hopefully, with young people feeding back into Labour’s #shapeyourfuture, we will see a transformed future of opportunity for Britain’s young people.

Here’s an article from the Newham Recorder;

MP concerned about influence of Russell Brand urges Newham students ‘use your vote’

16:15 27 January 2015

Liam Byrne MP at New Vic college encouraging students to vote in May

Liam Byrne MP at New Vic college encouraging students to vote in May


More than three million young people will have their first opportunity to vote in May’s general election – but students at New Vic Sixth Form college say politicians must do more to regain their trust.

Liam Byrne MP, shadow minister for universities, science and skills, visited the college in Plaistow to urge government and politics students to take part in the democratic process.

He is concerned about influential figures like campaigner Russell Brand, who is telling the British electorate not to bother voting in May.

In a trip to the school on January 20 the MP spoke to young people about their futures and listened to their concerns.

Financial help with studies and getting a job after university were listed as the students’ top concerns and the majority felt policies on tuition fees would determine who they voted for in May.

The trip was part of Labour’s “shape your future” consultation roadshow, planned to gather students’ concerns in order to help shape their manifesto for young people.

Government and politics student, Abdullah Saheb, said: “Many young people have lost trust in politicians, so politicians should do more to regain their trust.

“I think it’s a very good thing Mr Byrne visited us because it encourages young people to vote and restore our trust in politicians.”

Mr Byrne, who last visited the college in 2009, said it was a delight to visit NewVIc, adding: “The young people were full of aspiration and entrepreneurial flair.

“This generation is as ambitious and optimistic as any which has gone before – we need their voice in politics.”

Principal Eddie Playfair said, “This was a great opportunity for us to share our work with a front bench education spokesperson.

“I was able to tell him about the large number of NewVIc students who progress to university every year and also explain how we have been affected by the cut in funding for 18-year-olds and the unfair VAT position of colleges compared to schools.

“Young people in Newham have fantastic ambition and skills. They really value education and they want the next government to invest more in their futures.”



Byrne gets #shapeyourfuture on the road – 19 January 2015

Byrne gets #shapeyourfuture on the road


Liam Byrne takes Labour’s #shapeyourfuture consultation down Billy Bragg’s ‘highway of dreams’ through estuary Essex to the sea.


This week Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow Universities and Skills minister, will visit seven Further Education colleges in six constituencies across three days taking the A13 from West Ham to Southend.


Liam Byrne said:


“Our young people are as aspirational and optimistic as ever. They see the world of possibility like no one else. But right now they face a sea of uncertainty, with high unemployment, fewer apprenticeships, sky high university fees and even higher house prices. Despite this they’re far more tolerant about issues like immigration – and are much less likely to vote UKIP.


Only 10% of first time voters say they support UKIP.


But: many young people are not registered to vote – and nearly 2 million young people say they may not vote.


Last week Ed Miliband launched Labour’s #shapeyourfuture consultation. We want to hear what from young people about their hopes and aspirations and what they want from a Government that represents them.


I am helping get #shapeyourfuture on the road, listening to young people and encouraging them to speak up, register to vote and make their voice heard.”


Editors Notes:


  1. 1.      Liam will be visiting:


i)                    Newham Sixth Form College; NewVic

ii)                  Barking and Dagenham College

iii)                Ockenden Studio School 6th Form College

iv)                Palmers 6th Form College, Thurrock

v)                  PROCAT college, Basildon

vi)                SEEVIC College, Benfleet

vii)              South Essex College




2. How young people have been hit by this government

i.            Young people are now the first generation in a century to be poorer than the generation before them.[1]

ii.            Young people are now more likely than pensioners to be living in poverty according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation[2]

iii.            Almost 740,000 16-25 year olds are still out of work – that’s one in six young people.[3]

iv.            There are now 5,000 fewer apprenticeships for under 19 year olds than there were three years ago and the majority of new apprenticeships created since the election have gone to over 25s.[4]

v.            Today’s students will graduate with a debt of £44,000. On average that’s going to take people until they’re in their early 50s to pay off.[5]

vi.            Young people in work have seen their earnings cut by almost £1800 a year, since 2010.[6]

vii.            Young people’s household income has fallen by 20% since 2010 – in effect, they’re working Friday afternoon for free.[7]

viii.            A generation ago a deposit for a house took six month’s pay. Today’s first time buyers would have to save every penny earned for more than two years. A house for a first time buyer cost £36,000 in 1988. Now it costs £190,000.[8]

ix.            Today only one in six of under 35s now own their own home when it used to be more than one in four – and there’s half a million more young people living with their parents than in 2010.[9]

x.            Young people are now expected to work three more years before they get their state pension.[10]





[1] Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, State of the Nation 2013

[2] JRF/New Policy Institute, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion, November 2014

[3] House of Commons Library: Youth Unemployment Statistics, November 2014

[4] House of Commons Library: Apprenticeships Statistics, February 2014

[5] Sutton Trust, Time to Pay, April 2014

[6] House of Commons Library analysis: the decrease in real median weekly earnings for 22-29 year olds is equivalent to £1,750 per year (CPI adjusted) between 2010 and 2014

[7] Among the 22–30 age group, median income fell by 20% after housing cost between 2007–08 and 2012–13. (IFS, Living Standards, Poverty & Inequality in the UK, 2014)

[8] House of Commons Library analysis, December 2014 comparing house prices (mix adjusted) and real incomes from 1988 to 2013

[9] Savills: Residential Property Focus Q4 2014 / IFS, Living Standards, Poverty & Inequality in the UK, 2014

[10] Centre for Policy Studies, October 2014