Councillor backs jobs guarantee idea in Birmingham
Birmingham’s social inclusion chief has backed the idea of a “jobs guarantee” scheme for unemployed workers to help tackle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities, has said he supports the proposal from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
His words comments follow news that nine per cent of all working age adults in Birmingham were unemployed in April, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
A total of 66,025 people in the city were claiming unemployment benefit in April, an increase of 16,655 people on the March total of 49,370 claimants.
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The TUC has suggested the Government provides funding for a "minimum six months job" paying at least the Real Living Wage to as many people as possible facing long term unemployment.
It said priority should be given to every worker aged 25 and under who has been unemployed for three or more months, and workers aged over 25 who have been unemployed for at least six months.
Councillor Cotton, who represents the Glebe Farm and Tile Cross ward, said: "What this whole crisis has exposed is a whole set of inequalities we knew had been there for a number of years.
"It’s a desperate, troubling time for many people. We know there will be an enormous economic impact.
"Given where we are in the economic downturn, there a need to make some radical, immediate steps. We are very supportive of the jobs guarantee idea the TUC has come up with.
"I think there’s an immediate set of steps that need to be done.
"We would need to see funding come from central government to be able to manage this properly.
"We would want to see the real living wage paid. One of the biggest issues we have is in-work poverty."
The city council pays all employees the Living Wage, currently £9.30 per hour, and Councillor Cotton said the council is working with the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to encourage businesses in the city to do the same.
He said "a debate must be had" around Universal Basic Income (UBI), following calls for the city council to back a trial of payments of up to £150 per week, but stopped short of endorsing the petition.
He said: "There are really interesting issues which arise out of UBI. My caveat would be – clearly for UBI to work, it requires a national approach."
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