New employment figures show there were 8,060 people claiming unemployment-related benefits in Feltham and Heston in June 2020, this accounts for 9% of the constituency’s population aged 16-64, an increase of 4,505 since March before lockdown began. Young people are being particularly hit hard with 765 more claimants than in March, with a total of 1285 claimants aged 18-24 now.
We have also seen 7,500 claims made to the Self Employment Income Support scheme, equivalent to 77% of the potentially eligible population.
What is clear is that we need to see a solution to the economic challenge ahead of us that sees Government – local and national – work in partnership with education organisations, unions and employers on how we can prevent further job losses, seek investment in industry to create the jobs we can and to see access to those jobs through really effective work with employers and local skills partnerships.
For us in the local area, the call by Keir Starmer calling for an aviation sector deal in Prime Minister’s Questions was really important, and this is an issue that has the backing of many MPs across the House, particularly who have been affected by the unacceptable approach to job losses at British Airways and other parts of the aviation sector and supply chain. In a question to the Chancellor last week, I said to him that I was genuinely surprised that he hadn’t brought forward an aviation deal where we know there is a longer recovery tail and that as demand picks up, jobs will be needed. As West London MPs, we have also written to Boris Johnson as a neighbouring MP as his constituents will be affected by the aviation downturn too, and it is vital we all come together.
Schemes like the Kick Start scheme and more support for apprenticeships are really critical and are welcome. Some employers have raised with me that the schemes do not seem to be very distinct and that that could cause confusion as to which to use. We cannot afford this confusion and I will be writing to the Chancellor for greater clarity so that the goals and guidance around the schemes are clearly understood and made to work effectively and quickly. The Kick Start scheme has less funding per young person in real terms but is similar to the Future Jobs Fund introduced by the Labour Government in 2009 to support young people into work – a scheme which was cancelled by the Cameron Government but was recognised by the DWP as having a huge return on investment for young people and the taxpayer. So it is right that the Chancellor accepted this last week and pledged to work with Labour MPs to make the scheme a success.
One of the lessons from the Future Jobs Fund was the importance of the whole community to come together, and employers looking to stretch how they could create new work opportunities – in the public, private and voluntary sector. That’s why I am writing to a hundred local employers in the Heathrow area to ask them to work together with the local authority, jobcentre and skills partnerships to help get Feltham and Heston residents back to work and to know that local industry is stepping up to help.
We’re also seeing some really important local projects starting up – a youth employability and leadership project through Hounslow’s Promise, sports and wellbeing-based partnerships through Generations Active Bedfont Feltham Hanworth and local advice and employment support project Heston West Big Local and the Heston / Cranford Hub. Our community networks are learning from each other and reaching out to get more people involved to support other neighbours with job applications, ideas, be trained to help give some advice and signposting on household debt and other issues. I am also working with local banks to make sure they help families and businesses where they can as we need all our institutions to act responsibly and to go beyond the call of duty to get us all through.
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