ED Miliband today warns of a “youth unemployment emergency” in Britain as he prepares to harness Labour’s control of city councils across the north of England to co-ordinate a drive to get young people into work.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post on the eve of his party’s annual conference in Manchester, the Labour leader revealed he is to chair a new task force of Labour MPs and council leaders who will seek to tackle youth unemployment while in opposition.
There are more than one million young people out of work across the UK and the issue is acute in Yorkshire, with an estimated 100,000 18 to 24-year-olds looking for work.
Mr Miliband said the problem is such that it has become his “first priority”.
“There is a youth unemployment emergency right across this country,” he said.
“I will be chairing a youth jobs taskforce, in opposition, to work with local authorities all around the country, to work with Labour MPs, to say ‘what can we do now to make a difference to youth unemployment?’”
The task force will include politicians, academics, business leaders and trade union bosses, Mr Miliband said. At the same time, Labour council leaders in Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Wakefield will join six others from England’s largest cities to form a network that will share ideas and best practice on tackling youth unemployment in their local areas.
“We are determined not just to say ‘here are our policies for two-and-a-half years’ time’, but (to ask) how can we tackle this problem now?” he said.
“We want MPs to be holding jobs fairs; we want councils to make youth jobs a priority.”
Mr Miliband also reveals he is “deeply sceptical” about controversial Treasury plans to introduce local or regional pay deals into the public sector.
“We don’t think it’s the answer,” he said. “I think national pay bargaining has actually served us well. It’s served us well in fairness terms, and also served us well in cost and economic terms.”
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