Letter on Birmingham Jobs Fund


My letter to Birmingham City Council Leader, Sir Albert Bore and Cabinet Member for Jobs & Skills, Councillor Tahir Ali regarding the Birmingham Jobs Fund:

18 February 2013

Dear Albert and Tahir, 
I wonder if you or relevant officers could answer some queries I have about the Birmingham Jobs Fund? 
The Birmingham Commission on Youth Unemployment has produced an impressive report and I certainly welcome different agencies pooling resources to better address the challenge of youth unemployment more effectively. 
Where I have some queries, however, is how the new Birmingham Jobs Fund is going to target its resources and who/where decisions on priorities are going to be made.
Page 23 of the Commission report makes clear that the fund will focus on young people who will be out of work “for a long time” and that it will provide
·         “Varying degrees of financial support to employers taking on young people” and
·          “Tailored training and support for young people ‘wrapped around’ the subsidised jobs/apprenticeships created”
Both of these initiatives sound very worthwhile but it is clear that to put them into practice further decisions will need to be made about the precise actions that will give effect to them.
I am also conscious that the Report describes the uneven density of youth unemployment and long term youth unemployment across the City. Again however, the Report understandably does not make any recommendations about if the distribution of Birmingham Jobs Fund Support should be explicitly targeted on geographical areas rather than on unemployed young people themselves, irrespective of where they live. So, if geographical targeting of the Fund is to take place, decisions will presumably need to be made about how that will be done.
Arising out of this, I would be grateful if you could let me know the following:
1)      Who/which bodies will be charged with the responsibility of deciding priorities in the distribution of Birmingham Jobs Fund support?
2)      Will  the varying degrees of financial support mentioned above which will be offered to employers be distributed according to
a)      The geographical area in which the employer is located.
b)      The geographical area from which the employer intends to takes on young people
c)       The geographical area from which the employer currently draws its workforce
d)      The employer’s plans to take on young people irrespective of where they come from.
e)      Something to do with the sector in which the employer operates
f)       Something to do with the nature of the job and/ or training offered by the employer
g)      Something else – please specify
3)      Will the tailored training/support for young people be distributed according to
a)      The geographical area in which the employer taking on young people is located
b)      The geographical area in which the young person lives
c)       Deprivation criteria associated with the young person as an individual
d)      Skill issues associated with the young person as an individual
e)      Something else – please specify.
4)      If funding is going to be distributed in whole or in part according to geographical area (eg above), what boundaries will be chosen for deciding the will geographical areas concerned eg
a)      Super Output Areas
b)      Wards
c)       Districts
d)      Constituencies
e)      Aggregates of Super Output Areas (please specify criteria)
f)       Something else – please specify
5)      In determining targeting criteria for the distribution of Birmingham Jobs Fund Support what weight will be allocated between
a)      Numbers of JSA claimants
b)      Numbers of JSA claimants by length of time unemployed
c)       Numbers of JSA claimants by age
d)      Numbers of JSA claimants by age and time unemployed
e)      Skills and qualification statistics and trends in the geographical area concerned
f)       Other deprivation indices – please specify.
6)      How is the recommendation in relation to the Birmingham Jobs Fund intended to tie in with the other recommendations of the Commission on Youth Unemployment – ie recommendations 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7. 8 and 9?
I recognize, of course, that you may not yet have answers to all these questions – hence my first question above about who will have the responsibility for drawing up criteria.  I am sure you will also recognize that any or all of the criteria mentioned above could fit with the recommendations and logic of the Birmingham Commission on Youth Unemployment’s recommendations. However, the choice of criteria and weightings attached to each of them could have a significant effect on who is likely to benefit from the scheme, and who the scheme is unlikely to help.
Your comments on the above would, therefore, be appreciated.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I am also sending a copy of this to Cllr Cruise as the City Council Scrutiny Chair for this area of work.
Best wishes,
Richard Burden MP
Birmingham Northfield
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
t: 020 7219 2318 / 0121 477 7746
e: richard.burden.mp@parliament.uk
w: www.richardburden.com

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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