Byrne sets out Green New Deal to rebuild the Green Heart of Britain | Liam Byrne MP for Metro Mayor

Liam Byrne, Labour’s Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, has today called on the Tory Government to deliver a Green New Deal for the West Midlands that enshrines the right to work and a right to retrain for workers set to lose their jobs in the ‘CoronoCrunch’ when the government’s furlough scheme ends.

 

The new schemes would be funded by a new Just Jobs Fund, delivered by the region, and created by pooling five different funding pots with billions of pounds already committed but scattered between different government departments.

 

For weeks, Byrne has been highlighting Bank of England forecasts which warn that unemployment across the West Midlands could more than double to over 320,000 - a figure last seen in the late 1980’s.

 

Today Byrne proposes:

  • A capital kickstart of £3.5 billion which could create almost 100,000 jobs building over 10,000 new homes, retrofitting over 100,000 cold houses and delivering solar energy to over 200,000 homes
  • A Right to Work, with continued furlough support for ‘social distance sectors’ like hospitality, tourism, leisure, and culture and ‘Green Sectors’ which help accelerate a zero carbon city-region - in return for an employer commitment to keep workers on, and up-skill them
  • A Right to Train and Retrain, including a funded guaranteed apprenticeship for any young person with the right grades plus the right to retraining for part-time workers and the long term unemployed
  • New Careers Centres to bring together the DWP, the Dept for Education, councils, colleges and the NHS to create one stop shops to undertake proper assessments of and individuals jobs and skills options
  • The programmes would be delivered by pooling five funds - the ‘shared prosperity fund’, the National Retraining Scheme, the National Skills Fund, unspent Apprenticeship Budget, and the Adult Education Budget - from across government and handing the West Midlands share to the region to deliver

 

The scheme would be delivered by a new Mayor’s Just Jobs Board, which would include councils, employers, trade unions, job centre staff, FE colleges, universities. Today, the Tory Mayor’s ‘Economic Impact Group’ include banks - but not job centres.   

 

Liam Byrne said:

 

“A big earthquake has thousands of aftershocks. Often more dangrous than the quake itself. This is the risk we run today. As we head out of lockdown, we risk running into economic meltdown.  Unless we act.

 

And after the incredible sacrifice of these short months, we need the moral imagination to commit once more to becoming a country of full employment.

 

Not by returning to the old economy. But by building back better. Rebuilding our region as the Green Heart of Britain, with a Green New Deal that creates new careers that that pay well - and do good. 

 

This plan has to start with ambition not modesty. This is no time to be lacklustre. Our Tory Mayor has set a target for our region to go zero carbon of 2041. I think that is much, much too slow. We should be aiming to be the first city region to go ‘net zero’ - not one of the last.  And we can do this with a bold, Green New Deal for the Green Heart of Britain.

 

Commenting on the need for a new Just Jobs Fund to deliver the programme, Byrne said:

 

"What we now need to do is to end the chaos, put these funds together, and hand over our share here in the West Midlands to us, so we can do the business. 

 

‘We have to stand up to London and insist the funds come to our region in a new Just Jobs Fund so we can put the money to work.”

 

Highlighting the omission of the DWP from the Mayor’s ‘Economic Impact Group, Liam said:

 

"We need to bring together the best brains in the region to drive this through. The TUC has called for regional recovery boards to help drive this through. I think the TUC is right.  Our Tory Mayor has a committee - but he’s forgotten to ask the Department for Work and Pensions to join. That's a schoolboy error. I ask you: how are we going to get people back into jobs if the job centres aren't on your team?"

 

 

*** End ***

 

Notes to Editors

 

For further comment call Gareth Snell on 07515164417

 

The right to work would be delivered through two new programmes:

 

SaveGoodJobs Fund

  • ‘Social distance sectors’: where holding up the social distancing means holding back the business; e.g. hospitality, tourism, leisure, and culture.
  • Maintain furlough support at 60% with no employer contribution.
  • Employers would have to offer a training or upskilling entitlement linked to the job requirement on return to full-time work.

 

GreenNewJobs Fund

  • Strategic sectors: help accelerate a zero carbon city-region.
  • Extend the planned furlough subsidy of 60% for 6 months to any employer (private or public sector) creating a new job, in the green economy.
  • Employer’s fund 40%
  • Employers would have to offer a contract of employment with no zero hours arrangements permitted; offer a minimum of 12-month guaranteed employment; and commit to a training/upskilling entitlement for the employee on an approved training programme with a minimum 20% off-the job-training weekly

 

Right to train - and retrain.

  • An apprenticeship guarantee.
  • A guaranteed apprenticeship for everyone aged 18 to 25, as long as they have the required qualifications
  • Include a 6-month wage subsidy paid to employers for all new apprentices in the age group taking an accredited/approved apprenticeship programme with a minimum of 12-month guarantee of employment

 

Right to Retrain for Part Time Workers

  • Waiving the employer contribution to the current furlough scheme for the upskilling of part-time eligible employees - as long as the employee joined an accredited/approved retraining programme in the non-working periods.

 

Right to Retrain for the Unemployed

  • Funding participation in an approved retraining programme leading to a recognised standard and for maximum of 30 weeks
  • Relax the Jobcentre Plus/JSA restrictions like the16-hour rule, so unemployed people can upskill for a new future.

 

Overview of Proposals

 

 

Sectors

Employer puts in

Government puts in

Right to Work

 

 

 

SaveGoodJobs

Vulnerable Sectors where social distancing hurts business model e.g. hospitality/tourism/leisure/culture

Conditional on a training/upskilling entitlement linked to the job requirement on return to full-time work

 

Timescale for the scheme to be the subject of regular sectoral review

Maintain furlough support at 60% with no employer contribution 

FundNewJobs

Strategic sectors (Digital services/Green economy)

Employers would have to offer a contract of employment

- no zero hours arrangements permitted

-   minimum of 12-month guaranteed employment

 

Commit to a training/upskilling entitlement for the employee on an approved training programme

- minimum 20% off-the job-training weekly

Extend the planned furlough subsidy of 60% for 6 months to any employer (private or public sector) creating a new job

 

 

 

 

Right to Train

 

 

 

Apprenticeships Guarantee

Focused on priority sectors

An accredited/approved apprenticeship programme

Minimum of 12-month guarantee of employment

6-month wage subsidy paid to employers for all new apprentices in the age group

Right to Retrain - Part Time Workers

 

Commitment of the employee to participation in an accredited/approved retraining programme in the non-working periods

Commitment of the employer to continuation/completion of the programme after any return to full-time working

Waive the employer contribution to the current furlough scheme for the upskilling of eligible employees

Right to Retrain - Unemployed

 

Participation in an approved retraining programme leading to a recognised standard and for maximum of 30 weeks

Access to retraining to be subject to a prior, in-depth skills/education assessment 

Remove Jobcentre Plus/JSA restrictions (eg 16-hour rule) on participation in volume of retraining unemployed people can undertake which hampers upskilling for individuals and the wider economy

 

 

 

 

A Just Jobs fund would bring together five different funding pots

 

Pot

Size

Shared Prosperity Fund

Designed to replace the £2 billion+ of European Structural Fund that the UK is set to lose when we leave the EU.

Underspend in Apprenticeships funding

Early indicators are that the Apprenticeships Budgets may be underspent by up to half

Adult education budget

Around £100 million + already devolved to the West Midlands

National Retraining Scheme

Around £100 million

National Skills Fund

£3 billion