The Government has admitted that unemployment is now over the 2 million mark.
To quote Work & Pensions Minister (and former Islington councillor) James Purnell, “these are bad figures. There is no gloss that anyone is going to try and put on them.”
It’s hard to take in the scale of the figures – the latest rise, an extra 165,000 unemployed at the end of last year, is roughly equal to the population of Islington.
Just this week, I spoke to three different friends who are affected by this: one is preparing to reapply for his job, one is doing voluntary work while she’s job hunting and another is worried about his partner’s job in a round of redundancies. These are uncertain times.
The Government could and should take a bold stand and tackle the economic and the climate change crisis together: by creating jobs in the work that needs to be done insulating our homes, developing renewable energy, producing more food and goods locally, and providing better public transport.
Tomorrow sees the 2nd reading of David Heath’s Fuel Poverty Bill. By calling for major energy efficiency programme, to bring existing homes up to the current energy efficiency levels enjoyed by modern homes, it could tackle both unemployment and the impact of climate change.
I hope that for once, Emily Thornberry, Islington South’s Labour MP, will swallow her partisan pride and back this excellent Bill. Watch this space.