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Council leadership claims a new unit has significantly increased employment
Labour’s claim that the party is responsible for a large fall in unemployment in Waltham Forest has been attacked by opposition councillors.
The town hall leadership has hailed a new unit set up last year to tackle the problem by increasing co-operation between businesses and job centres.
Labour say there has been a general fall in people claiming jobseekers allowance of 25 per cent since the unit was established and a 29 per cent drop in youth unemployment.
Council figures show the employment rate in the borough is currently 66.4 per cent.
London’s average is 68.1 per cent and the national average is 70.4 per cent.
Councillor Mark Rusling, cabinet member for economic development and corporate resources, said: “That puts us among the top 10 performing boroughs in London on overall falls in unemployment during the period March to December 2013 and I think that has a lot to do with the hard work we have been undertaking.
“Now our business, employment and skills unit is up and running and making an impact, I am sure there are plenty more opportunities out there to maximise the chances for our residents to find work.”
However, this claim was attacked by the Conservative opposition and Liberal Democrats, who say the coalition government’s economic strategy is responsible for the fall in joblessness.
Tory group leader Matt Davis also pointed to the past failures of Labour led schemes to tackle the problem in Waltham Forest.
He said: “Although the council’s current efforts on unemployment are better than the absolute nothing that was their approach for decades in our borough, the present improvement owes a lot more to the Conservative led government than it does to Cllr Rusling or the Labour party.”
Lib Dem group leader Bob Sullivan insisted not enough is being done.
He said: “Local Lib Dems have forced the council to increase their measly four apprenticeships to 40.
"Nationally Lib Dems have created 1.6million private sector jobs and given every person in work a £700 tax cut, making sure they don’t pay any income tax on the first £10,000 they earn.
"Finding a job and being in work pays. This more reflects the council’s figures than a hurriedly set up unit.”
The council credits schemes including a youth employment hub, which it is claimed is the first of its kind in England, and agreements that businesses in the borough employ local people.
The council’s previous attempts to tackle unemployment through the Worknet programme were beset with long-term failings and underperformance.
In 2012 it was found that companies hired to provide services under the £9million programme fell well short of targets and blamed the authority for not providing adequate support.
The number of people out of work nationally fell by 125,000 to 2.34 million in the three months to December, according to estimates.