London boroughs seek ways to tackle unemployment

A new report has brought together London boroughs in calling for stronger local powers to address long-term unemployment and in-work poverty in the capital.

The new London Councils report, Better Ways to Work: Tackling labour market disadvantage in London, suggests that high employment rates disguise substantial weaknesses in the capital’s labour market, with over half a million Londoners wanting to work but not currently finding themselves in employment.

In addition to this, London’s youth unemployment remains stubbornly high at 15.5 per cent – the highest in the country – and data shows that Londoners with disabilities are far more likely to be unemployed than those without.

London Councils wants the government to take a ‘local first’ approach when developing new employment support services and funding streams, predominantly through placing jobcentre support alongside council services. Efforts should be refocused on those considered hardest to help, such as those who have been out of work for many years or who have a disability.

The report argues that, because local authorities provide such a variety of key services supporting vulnerable people, jobcentres should be located alongside borough services to improve coordination of support, rather than being the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Georgia Gould, London Councils’ executive member for skills & employment, said: “While London appears an immensely wealthy city with a strong economy, scratch beneath the surface and it becomes clear the capital faces serious challenges of unemployment, poverty, and exploitation.

“London boroughs need to be properly empowered to help ensure no Londoner is left behind. Failing to make the most of Londoners’ potential is a waste of economic potential, as well as a social injustice. With the right tools, boroughs would develop better ways to support the long-term unemployed into work or to lead clampdowns on local employers who fail to pay the minimum wage. We could reshape London’s labour market so that it works for everyone.”

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