My post for LabourList
Boris Johnson today accused unemployed young Londoners as being too lazy to work.
“There are large numbers of job vacancies. Why are young people not taking up those jobs?”
The answer to the Tory Mayor’s question is, quite simply: there are not enough jobs to go around. There are now on average 7 Job Seekers’ Allowance claimants to every Job Centre vacancy in London, and the figure is far worse in poorer boroughs: Hackney, the worst affected area in the country, has 45 applicants per vacancy.
Boris believes that youth unemployment, which now stands at 1 million (the highest since records began) is due to a ‘lack of energy’. Does the Mayor really believe the thousands of us who took to the streets last year to protest his party’s policies are ‘lacking in energy’? Or that the 600 young people in Walthamstow who attended Stella Creasy’s recent jobs fair don’t want to work? Young Londoners have energy in abundance: another red bull won’t help us find a job.
The truth is there is a shortage of jobs, not a shortage of ‘energy’, and this short-fall lies at the hands of the Mayor’s own party. Cuts to EMA have seen a drop in the number of students staying on after 16. Removing £1bn in funding from the Future Jobs Fund has led to a 77% increase in long term youth unemployment and fewer students are pursuing university since fees rose to £9k.
Boris hasn’t helped address the youth unemployment crises, and why would he? He is a man too busy with his own jobs: whether it be promoting his book, writing his Telegraph column or even , sometimes, being Mayor of London. Unemployment is so far removed from Boris Johnson’s life experiences it simply doesn’t register with him as something worthy of addressing.
Boris’s comments come as a stark contrast to Ken Livingstone’s campaign, which yesterday held a seminar on policies for young people. The event looked at issues including youth unemployment, education, and policing. Ken’s message to the next generation of Londoners is that they have a future in our city, that they will be listened to, and that they won’t be sidelined while he attends to the City or has another photo-op next to some bikes. The Labour candidate is taking note of young people’s concerns in every corner of London, with a school visit in each borough: he is pursuing ways to address key issues, not patronising us about our energy levels.
Boris may think we’re lacking the energy to go out and find a job, but this young Londoner thinks he’s lacking the energy to do his own. It’s time we handed it over to someone more capable.