He told an online conference of West Midlands Labour Party Members attended by Labour Leader Kier Starmer on Saturday, that the defining mission of his mayoralty would be to start building the region that gives our young people the best life chances in Britain. 

Byrne revealed: 

West Midland’s children are set to lose a massive £21 billion in lost lifetime earnings - upto that’s £40,000 each - due to the failures that have plagued lockdown learning

Youth services in the region have now been cut by 80% - one of the biggest cuts in Britain 

Apprenticeship numbers in the region have collapsed by almost 40% - before the crisis hit, and much worse than the rest of England

Youth unemployment in parts of the region is now over 20%, and is rising faster than elsewhere 

The number of homes for social rent built each year has fallen by 80% 

Byrne said: 

‘When we shortchange children, we short-change our future. That is why the defining mission of my mayoralty will become the place that gives young people the best life chances in Britain. 

‘In this mission, I am not daunted, I know that councillors, council leaders, educators, youth workers – and crucially our incredible young people themselves - together have both the ambition and determination to turn this ambition into action.  
 
'Byrne went on to set out his ambition to see the West Midlands become a global capital of green manufacturing, the place the makes the things the world needs to save itself, while creating over 21,000 new jobs in a Green Industrial Revolution.

‘We want to create here in the region that led the carbon revolution, a new leader of the zero carbon revolution. The first city region in Britain to go net zero carbon. The region that makes the things the world needs to cut carbon. 

‘When my great grandparents came here to set up shop in Kings Norton, they came because they had heard from far away that here was a place where “if you could draw it we could make it. Well this century needs us once again to make history by inventing the future. 

‘This is the way we drive forward a plan for jobs, jobs, jobs - over 21,000 jobs in a green industrial revolution. And these are jobs that must help us tackle the biggest challenge of all. The injustice that still in our region, even today, that means that the postcode where you were born to often defines your possibilities in life.'
 
ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

Liam’s full speech:

 

A NEW FUTURE FOR THE HEART OF BRITAIN 

Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP

SATURDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2021

Kier,

Thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you for setting out with brilliance and clarity the difference that Labour could make.

Thank you for getting straight on the road to deliver your message here in the great heart of England, in the place that I happen to believe is the great hope for Britain.

Let me start to with profound thanks to all of the vaccinators and volunteers, the carers and key workers, everyone who has kept us safe, given us light at the end of the tunnel and are now working so hard to get us all to the end of that tunnel as fast as possible.

I know I speak for many when I say that the stories of love and loss that I have heard through this terrible year will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Stories like Sarah Scully’s, who tragically died in Queen Elizabeth Hospital of Covid just after giving birth to her little baby without ever having had the chance to hold her baby in her arms.

Stories like the children who said goodbye to their dad on WhatsApp as doctors held their dad’s hand as if he was their own parents, not just a patient.

Stories like Charlie Parkers who met with me last week with others who lost their parents in care homes where there was no protection.

Lives lost. Livelihoods destroyed.

After the agony, after the sacrifice, after the suffering - so often in silence - this is our duty:

To now make sure this pandemic of disease is not followed by a pandemic of poverty.

Yet we know our region has been hardest-hit.

We know that in our region poorest communities have been hit hardest of all.

Covid has taken so many of our families.

We stand determined today that Covid will not take our future.

And that is why we cannot afford another three years of a Tory mayor.

We cannot afford more of the same.

After four years of office, the blunt truth is that life in our region is weaker, poorer, and less safe.

Those are not my facts.

Those are his.

The facts and figures in the Mayors own state of the region report published before this earthquake hit us.

His record is one of thirty Tory failures.

We were promised a new era of pride and glory.

Now we know it was nothing more than another Tory fairy story.

He always claimed he had a hotline to Downing Street.

Yet Downing Street has spent its time forking out favours for special friends while delivering failures for ordinary folks here in the West Midlands.

We were promised so much.

Yet, never in political history has so much been forked out to so few.

The Tories have always been led by a golden circle. And that circle has certainly been gilded in this crisis.

And what do we get?

Before the crisis, life expectancy was actually dropping in the West Midlands but not for the whole of the UK.

Our economic output fell by a fifth in Q2 last year, the worst in the country.

Exports were falling by £2 billion a year before the crisis hit.

Our unemployment and redundancy rates are amongst the highest in the country.

Birmingham has more people on furlough than any other City.

The number of empty shops on our high streets are 50% worse than London.

More people, not fewer, are living in the most deprived communities.

The number of police offices has fallen almost 2,000, while violent crime has almost doubled in the last three years.

Our Police Commissioner, David Jamieson, has done his very best to protect our streets and our families but the Tory Government has tied his hands and hollowed out our policing.

As David retires later this year – for the third time – I want to thank him for his work not just as our Commissioner but for every moment he has dedicated to public service over the last 50 years.

Meanwhile the Mayor has secured just 5% of the recovery fund we asked for from government.

Over £100 million worth of his projects are running late.

And his signature transport achievement last year was to build a mile and a half of tram track.

My friends there are literally snails that cover more ground in a year than our mayor lays tram track.

We have a homelessness crisis while by 2019, the number of homes we’re building for social rent has collapsed by 80% since 2010.

I tell you in all candour today we cannot go on like this.

That is why we have asked hundreds of thousands of residents across our region to work with us to develop a plan, a plan for a new future for the heart of Britain.

Thousands have offered us their points of views, their ambitions, their anxieties, their hopes, their dreams, their common sense, their practical wisdom.

It's a plan for us to make our green future,

The workshop of the world becoming the green workshop of a greener planet, a global capital of green manufacturing.

It's a plan where we, the youngest region in Europe, become the place we give our young people the best life chances in Britain

And it is a plan where we bottle the community spirit that has surged forward in this crisis and create here in this most diverse of places, a community of richer stronger, safer community life with more police back on the streets,

Where we use culture and sport to bring people together,

Where we ensure a right to food,

Where we set about making homelessness history.

Where we action the lessons that we always learn in a time of crisis, which is that a community that looks out for each other is safer, stronger and a nicer place to live.

In Parliament our message to Boris Johnson will be clear: level up our nation, so that we can level up our region.

But here in our region, over the weeks to come, we will draw together your ideas to help us become a leader again.

The place that led the carbon revolution becoming the new leader of the zero carbon revolution.

The first city region in Britain to go net zero carbon.

The region that makes the things the world needs to cut carbon.

When my great grandparents came here to set up shop in Kings Norton, they came because they had heard from far away that here was a place where “if you could draw it we could make it.”

Well this century needs us once again to make history by inventing the future.

This is the way we drive forward a plan for jobs, jobs, jobs - over 21,000 jobs in a green industrial revolution.

And these are jobs that must help us tackle the biggest challenge of all.

The injustice that still in our region, even today, that means that the postcode where you were born to often defines your possibilities in life.

We know in our party that talent is everywhere but the opportunity is not.

The historic role of our party in our country's history has always been, and always will be to create a democracy of opportunity.

To drive the future forward, but to make sure that the future is a place where we more fairly share the harvest of our collective efforts.

Yet look at what has happened to our young people under these Tories.

Each night I ring round my constituents to see how they're doing.

On Thursday night I spoke to a teacher who said to me "I just feel for them….I see how much learning our children are losing.

And I know the poorest children are hardest-hit’.

Often fighting over the one phone in the house, which by the way is sometimes the most valuable possession the family has.

Today we publish the facts about how much less our children will earn because of the failures that have plagued lockdown learning.

We estimate today that our children will lose an extraordinary £21 billion in lost earnings.

All but one school here in Birmingham reported to us that they did not have enough laptops to go round.

That's why we had to rally good people in the city to start collecting laptops for our kids.

Thousands of these kids are children on free school meals.

Free school meals which the Tory MPs of the West Midlands voted to deny during school holidays, while the Mayor stayed silent.

During half term last year I was packing my car to bursting point with food donated by good people to ferry round the region’s food banks to feed the region’s future.

That is what this government has reduced us to.

Apprenticeship numbers have collapsed by 40% – and that was before the Covid crisis here.

Youth employment here in our region is now over 20%.

Our youth services have had the funding cut by over 80% over the last 10 years.

I ask you how can this be right?

When we shortchange children, we short-change our future.

That is why the defining mission of my mayoralty will become the place that gives young people the best life chances in Britain

In this mission, I am not daunted,

I know that councillors, council leaders, educators, youth workers – and crucially our incredible young people themselves - together have both the ambition and determination to turn this ambition into action.

But finally let me be clear that the foundation for which we build everything that we can achieve together will be the foundation of a richer shared community life.

We have the potential with a city of culture in Coventry the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Sandwell and the Festival of Britain to kickstart a decade of togetherness

Where we use culture and sport, invest in the festivals and markets, that bring us together, to create a magical place,

Renowned around the world, for what we have achieved to change the world, and the things of which we are most proud.

Keir, you will forgive me for saying that it is my privilege today to welcome you to what I believe is the greatest region in the greatest country on Earth.

This is a place where we believe that power has a purpose.

This is a place that knows how futures are truly built.

We have done it before.

And after May, we will do it again.

 

ENDS

 

Contact:

Oliver Longworth - Head of Communications for Liam Byrne - olongworth@gmail.com - 07468611694