Islington Labour is committed to making our borough a fairer place and tackling one of the major drivers of unfairness in Islington, unemployment, is the focus of a radical report published today.
The Islington Employment Commission - the first of its kind in the country - has spent the last nine months gathering evidence about why, despite there being 1.34 jobs for every working age person in Islington, almost 40,000 local people are not in work.
Despite the image some people choose to depict of Islington as a wealthy borough, the reality is that there is a huge divide between rich and poor and we actually have one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country. In fact, a higher proportion of our children grow up in households where no adult works than anywhere else in the country.
Lifting people out of poverty by getting more people into work will do more than anything else to improve lives of the poorest in our borough.
Our report makes it clear that action is needed to tackle unemployment in Islington, including better help for those who need it most and more local control over employment services.
In creating this report, the Commission visited job centres, job clubs, businesses, charities, and schools, and spoke to unemployed people directly to gather evidence about what needed to change.
The Commission has made many observations and three core calls to action about what must be done to help tackle unemployment:
- Targeting support for those who need it most, especially those who aren't well, are disabled, or who have been out of work for a long time. There are lots of services and resources, but they are not always well co-ordinated, and we need to work better together to radically improve the employment support system.
- Employers need to be given a single place where they can easily recruit the people they need locally. There are many benefits to working locally for employers and employees, and employers should work with local services to create real change for the community.
- The best support to help young people find the careers they deserve, including creating a stronger link between employers and schools to make sure that all Islington young people get the high quality careers education they need
The Commission also found that employment services commissioned and managed by the Government are simply not delivering for local people.
The report calls on Government to devolve employment services to the local level, instead of funding many different agencies separately. This would help areas like Islington target resources where they are needed most, and make sure that services work for local areas and the types of opportunities on offer.
Cllr Robert Khan, Co-Chair of the Islington Employment Commission, said: "Islington has long-standing problems around unemployment, which is far higher than it should be and a major cause of poverty. We've spoken to a huge range of people, from unemployed residents to local business owners, about the issues that stop people getting into work.
"Today, we are calling for radical change to help get local people into jobs they can keep and ultimately enjoy."
Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, said: "Islington has an unemployment crisis, with more kids growing up in households where no adult works than anywhere else in the country. I welcome the Commission's report, and as a council we're committed to making this vision happen.
"The success of the Commission will be judged not just by how much we can reduce unemployment, but by how much of the drop is those currently excluded from the labour market. The better off residents of our borough enjoy the benefits of an economy that is, for them at least, thriving. I want all of our residents to enjoy a part of that success."
Pictured: Islington Labour councillors at the launch of the Islington Employment Commission.