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The Look North Debate

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We all know the Government is trying to balance the nation's


books but it's led to protests on the streets as our economy starts


to feel the squeeze. We have seen factory closures, jobs


under threat and rising unemployment. All this experience


I've got and there's nothing out there. You think what's the point.


Families across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are struggling to make


ends meet. The prices keep going up and up. If we didn't have the


benefits coming in, we would be in so much trouble. It is easy to


think our economy is teetering on the edge. But some say there are


signs of the green shoots of recovery, with a cut in Humber


bridge tolls on the way, a real desire for growth and the potential


for a green energy jobs boost. are getting ahead of our seems. We


need to start looking at the opportunities that will flow on


from it, it is extremely exciting. Tonight we are at the University of


Lincoln's business school to find out what the future could hold for


Welcome to our economy, the Look North debate. There is less than


two days until the budget and tonight we have an audience of


invited people from across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. No


doubt they will have their own ideas about what the Chancellor


should be doing in Wednesday's budget. We have business leaders,


farmers, politicians, and ordinary families who are struggling to make


ends meet. I am Tracy Cook. My husband works, he is on an average


wage. I am unable to work because I have three children out of four


with additional needs. We get working tax credits, we get DLA and


child tax. That is what we live on. We couldn't live on my husband's


wages. If you have got your budget to go shopping on the maximum I can


afford to spend is �100. With four children, that is not always easy.


I do use cash loans for things we wouldn't be able to afford. You do


pay over the odds, but sometimes you don't have any choice. The


prices keep going up. Electric and gas especially, but I don't see why


my kids should freeze so we end up overspending. It is my choice that


I have children, but it is not my choice that I couldn't work. We are


real people. We live off these benefits. Someone like David


Cameron, he can say we are going to do this and that, but it will never


effect him. It is easy to ruin someone else's life when it's not


affecting your own. Tracy Cook is here tonight. What should the


Chancellor be doing on Wednesday to help families like your? It should


be a fairer budget for everyone. He keeps making these cuts, but like I


had already said, we live off these benefits. My husband is on a low


wage and we wouldn't be able to afford to be able to live, to be


able to go shopping. I need him to understand when he makes these cuts


it is people like myself that are affected. Any who identifies with


Tracy's situation. You are from Hull. It is a massive problem. Fuel


poverty is a massive thing that effects thousands of families.


Families have to make a choice of making sure their kids are warm or


buying food. It is really important we change it. It is appropriate


when talking about the potential for green shoots of recovery that


we have a number of farmers here tonight. We are talking about the


cost of living and the cost of food, Lincolnshire is snon as the bread


basket of England, fantastic produce grown here, but why is food


so expensive? Take fuel as an example. That cost has to be


absorbed within the farming production business. It is very


challenging and difficult out there. For example, nationally, 24% of


growers didn't actually turn a profit last year. So there are big


issues in terms of industry, in terms of Lincolnshire there is


great opportunity as well. We have some of the best land in Europe


frankly, with we've got some world class producers, what is a


stronghold are the increasing costs of production and the need for


businesses to try and absorb that when there is little opportunity to


do so. Which is why we are seeing a lot of businesses fall to the


wayside over the past 20 years in food production. Up until 2008


Lincolnshire farming contributed an additional 34% to the economy, so


in terms of its importance, and you are right to call it the bread


basket of the country, it is crucial to supply affordable,


healthy fruit and vegetables in the country. Let's speak to one of our


MPs, Andrew Percy, Conservative MP. Do you think the Chancellor is


aware of the unique set of problems we have in East Yorkshire and


Lincolnshire? Absolutely. Every politician in the country is aware


of the north/south divide and here in Yorkshire, even in the good


years we were moving relatively backwards. More people became


dependent on benefits. We know the poverty gap widening. He is aware


of that. These problems can't be solved overnight. Fuel is a massive


issue at the moment. We have acted on that. We have taken 2.5 pence


off fuel. We have delayed Labour planned inflation rises. But oil


prices are beyond the control of government. Whatever the Government


does on fuel, we are still at the behest of international markets.


think the Government could reduce VAT, they have increased VAT to 20%.


We say it is unnecessary, to reduce that, that would give everybody


three pence per litre reduction. Andrew makes fair points in


relation to north/south divide. The Government's policy in relation to


families is complete disarray at the moment. We have a situation


where by they are scrapping effectively tax credits for people


who can only work 16 hours a week. They receive �73 a week. It tells


them forget having a job, don't bother, unless you can get your


hours increased to 24 hours a week, don't bother with that job, go on


benefits. The policy is in demret disarrare, as a result of decisions


made by the Treasury. Another issue which is pertinent to most families


is the issue with child benefit. If you earn �43,000 you will lose your


child benefit. It sounds a lot of money, but it is not when you think


of the cost of living. The Government's policies are in


complete disarray. Tory backbenchers are extremely annoyed


about this policy. We have got quite a few business people here


tonight. You run a huge retail construction firm based in East


Yorkshire, what would you like to see from the budget? On fuel 80% of


a gallon of fuel is tax, where one could say if you want to be a


greener country, you have to get people out of the cars, but 80% of


that tax is going out to business and then business pass it on to the


consumer. I don't think we can possibly be taxed any more in that


way. The Government has got to go elsewhere. You are an art zan


chocolatier. How is the cost of fuel affecting your business?


had this last year. It is still killing me. I work from home and go


to shows. But the fact is that we have to look very hard this year.


We don't take our car or vehicles off the drive unless we have two or


three journeys to do in one go. It is still crippling us. We could do


with the price of fuel coming down. It's tough. Fuel is a priority for


you. Absolutely but farming, there is a real opportunity to try and


alleviate the pressures here, particularly in energy. I would


like to see the Government alleviate some of the issue around


feeding tariffs. The incentive was there and taken away and we are


left with confusion, and industry and business, we don't know whether


to go forwards or backwards. businesses I speak to, they say to


me the consultation was the the problem. The reality is we expected


it to go down, 43 pence, there was no discussion with businesses. It


was just done with one shake of... What Karl isn't telling you about


the feeding tariff is what it's paid for. It's paid for by higher


electricity bills. People on the one hand are saying it wants higher


fuel bills but it is arguing for money to be put on to fuel bills.


They got the policy policy wrong. We are going to talk about green


energy in detail. Let's talk about unemployment. A huge challenge


facing many people in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The


jobless total rose again last week in parts of Hull now, there are 35


people chasing every vacancy. For some people there's little sign of


any optimism in sight. I'm 40-years-old and I have been


looking for work for three years. All this experience I've got and


there's nothing out there. I had a job driving with a soft drinks


company and I did that for 18 years. Three years ago I found myself


unemployed. I did numeracy and literacy through the job centre. I


asked for training for fork lift lessons and they said there's no


funding any more. I want to be a security guard and you need a


licence, but they don't fund that either. If I want to work in the


town I am not going to get somewhere to live, it is impossible


to do. People say what is the point, I have to keep on the dole. It's


been really hard. Peter is with us now. How optimistic you will find a


job? I am not very optimistic really. There's that many people


applying for the same jobs. I'm not getting no feed back. There's no


letters coming back saying you haven't succeeded with this


application. I have one or two where I had an interview. There's


no joy to be honest. Who else has first hand experience of


unemployment? Lee, you are a stew student here. Tell us your


experience. About three years ago I was employed through the financial


services sector and as Peter was saying I was applying for jobs left


right and centre. Very little feed back was coming back to me unless I


was chasing it. I was fortunate to be passing the university one day


during an open day and walked in, explained my situation, and was


encouraged to apply for a course. I didn't have any qualifications


other than my GCSEs and A-levels, so it was a opportunity to take a


step back, refocus, retrain and give myself a new direction. I


really feel it's benefited me. Professor Andrew Atherton from the


university, what are the economic circumstances that's led to this


problem, high unemployment? To pick up on Lee's point, the first


question we get asked is what kind of job am I going to get if I go to


the University of Lincoln. We have open days where that is what people


are asking. Our team are there to advise on that. In In terms of


broader unemployment, the problem we have is Hull is a big city with


big industry issues and challenges, high levels of unemployment. There


are parts of Lincolnshire where even with 3 million unemployment,


labour market is site. We have set up a engineering school with


Siemens, they want the right graduates with practical applied


skills, so there are places, but the job situation is very difficult


but there are other places where there are people are looking for a


different type of skill. Plenty of people here have plenty of


experience. I was working for a firm plastering and my job was to


be a secure one on the week I was told. On the Friday I was given a


notice to say there was no more work for me and on the Saturday I


saw two colleagues in town who said two Polish lads had been taken on


in my place. There's no work for English people. They need to make


cuts and a lot of farmers are employing migrant labour because


they will get it cheaper. You are a farmer in the county. That's right.


There is a minimum wage which you have to pay anyway, and he is not


wrong saying they will do it cheaper, but the only way they will


do it is if the gang master take it off the worker. We are a legitimate


business, we have to pay holidays. Why don't you employ more British-


born workers. We would love to and we do. Our workforce is nearly 60%


market workers. These migrant workers who work these 12 hour days


will do it on minimum wage, but when it was English workers you had


to give us a proper pay and overtime. But because you can get


it done cheaper, you you prefer to employ migrants rather than British.


It is because of the work ethick. We would love to be the English


workers. Don't get me wrong, the work is tlrks but from the source


you have to use, there's more often or not, no-one to work the longer


hours. You put a broken accent on, and you will find there is work.


You are a farmer. One of the biggest challenges is that it is


very seasonal work and one of the biggest issues to get domestic


situations engage indeed this is the welfare system. If work is


available and people take that work for a week or a month, it can take


up to ten weeks after that work has ended for any income then to come


back into that family home after that work. What the Government


could do is provide a bit more flexibility to accept that there


are seasonal peeks and opportunities for UK citizens to


actually go into the workplace, but not create that barrier where it is


a working and no income into the family until they get back on to


the jock seekers system. Then we might be able to see flexibility


and more UK assistance demoming. it too easy to bring in migrant


workers. There has been an issue with the large immigration we


haven't be able to control. There is an issue in that I talk to


employers and say why are you employing so many migrant labourers,


they say because it is cheaper, sometimes they will they are the


only ones that turn up. But in some cases it hasn't had the skills in


this country. The Irish r issue with unemployment, some is to do


with migration, but other issues are to do with the skills we have


in this country. 7 million people in this country are unemployed.


Aren't the migrants adding to the unemployment figures. The bigger


The There is an issue with the politicians to get a handle on.


It's been too difficult for us to start. I think we should. We need a


plan for jobs and growth. In the last 12 months in my constituency,


youth unemployment has increased by 77%. We have unemployment at 3


million, youth unemployment a million. The Government are not


doing anything to deal with that issue. Of Let's get away from the


politics, we talked about unemployment and the financial


squeeze on families. Let's move on and look at potentially some of the


positive news out there. Many say there is some light at the end of


the tunnel and that could come from green energy.


I am Matt Jukes, port director. Green port hull is the


redevelopment of Alexandra dock to provide manufacturing facility for


Siemens. 200 million pounds investment, will create a factory


employing around 700 people. You then apply the port multiplier,


which is the number of indirect jobs in the city to support those


700 jobs. 4,000 people will come on to the docks to work every day and


20,000 people employed in Hull. It is probably the biggest development


ever taking place in the docks apart from when the docks


themselves were built. We are in an ideal location. We are in the right


spot, lady luck has played a hand here. We are getting ahead of


ourselves in terms of getting Siemens here and green port


delivered, but beyond that, when you look at the opportunities that


will hopefully flow on from that, it is extrimly exciting. A very


exciting development, but it is going to need the support of the


engineering giant Siemens, where are we with that, has that deal


been signed and sealed? We are committed planning applications to


the counsel and MMO and it is going through the process of being


approved hopefully. We would hope that will be approved by the


council mid-April time, then we have process that sits behind that.


The timings at the moment are that we are hopeful, late summer early


autumn we will have what is known an unconditional consent, which


means we will do the development, nobody can stop us and that is the


timing we are working to. Hopefully this will bring new jobs and many


people need them right now. We have a couple of lads from British


Aerospace BAe Systems. You are the main union representive there. Are


you optimistic about green jobs possibly as a driver of our


economy? I think there is some real optimism there and I am pleased


seem Siemens are coming in, but I think think and I am sure every is


aware the difficulty of BAe Systems at the moment which 900 members


jobs disappearing, going into the unemployment pool. What is really


keen for us, we want advanced manufacturing with Siemens coming


in, but we also need the BAe Systems, people properly employed.


The potential to support Siemens in the event of BAe Systems on the


sight is clearly there. It is a great opportunity. This could be a


hugely exciting prospect and comes at a time when East Yorkshire


desperately needs jobs for skilled workers. Absolutely, and it is


desperately disappointing that BAe Systems is planning to end


manufacturing at bruf. And it is very difficult to understand the


logic of that when it is a key manufacturing manufacturing


capability in a strategically important industry. There are good


prospects for East Yorkshire in going forward in renewable energy.


Wave and tidal power, biomass and biofuels. The challenge is now


because now it is very, very tough, very high levels of unemployment.


The jobs are going to come down the line. It is bridging the gap,


particularly if we lose so many skilled jobs. Could this be the


solution, do you think the you have the skills to pick up on the green


energy jobs boom? To be honest, I have got to be interested in that


type of work. That type of work, I am not interested in. Help being


the big programme on the health and education from the government, NHS


programme, �500 million and we promised that that work would go


locally and that promise has been exceeded with 90% local labour on


that. There's got to be a will to do it. We have to have promises


from Siemens that when we get a multi-planner - if you can spend


this money locally, but there's got to be a will and there's got to be


promises kept. This is the big worry, how confident are you these


will be jobs that go to local people. It is a huge challenge to


skill up the local workforce so we can grab these jobs locally.


There's lots of work going on in that area. Paul's company has a


training academy that's very well regarded and it's beginning that


work in terms of the gentleman here, he can work in these industries. It


is possible to retrain people from the more traditional jobs that


existed in the local marketplace into these new forms of employment


and that's a challenge we must meet. Are you confident local workers


have the right skills here? That is one of the big challenges, to make


sure when we do deals, that is when immediately what must kick in is


making sure we work with Siemens, and other supply chains, let's not


lose sight of the fact this is going to be a cluster, and we then


have two years in which to make sure people are skilled in the


right way, Siemens a big stake holder in the city of Lincoln here


and the university, we are hopeful they will do the same in Hull and


benefits for the East Riding and they have said they will look to


employ as many local people as they can. They have done a big selection


process. They started off with 100 locations and down to 30 in the UK.


The challenges that Hull have got, there are vngs to someone like


Siemens. Is there a danger we could talk down our economy too much. You


are a business woman from Lincolnshire. Tell us your story.


When we are talking about the unemployment rate rising, I think


that's been increased because we did have the middle of the


population, but we have now increased the the pension age, so


we have more older people coming into the market. We are


discouraging students from going to university because they can't


afford it. Isn't it time if we have companies like yourselves coming to


Lincolnshire, how about bringing or promoting apprenticeships, so


students maybe go to Siemens, get trained and then you will keep


local workers in the local area. You work at BAe Systems. I am going


to lose my job by the end of the year. The trick we miss is the


investment into the UK. We have foreign companies can coming into


our country, starting off businesses, whereas we should be


there first, not reliant on Siemens doing T the the UK government and


Labour and Conservative, they shubed the ones doing it and


bringing it there so we have jobs going forward. We can invest the


money back into the people. We watch these companies come in, pay


our people, they pay some of the taxes some of the time and they


then take the profits out to their own countries. We lose out


nationally in so much. It's worked to a large extend in Scotland and


in Wales, is regional government the key to economic success? In


other words, home rule for the north.


I am a Labour MP for Grimsby. I have always been a campaigner for


the north. In the '90s when the Labour Party began to move to


evolution for skort land and Wales, now that campaign for regional


government and devolution to the north actually becomes relevant


again. We are sandwiched between two areas which get more government


help than we do. We get nothing. Scotland gets a worse deal was we


are in an English parliament dominated by London and the south-


east. Let's fight for ourselves. It is effectively a government for the


south-east by the south-east. It is time to calm tain for the north --


campaign for the north and for devolution we want power to rule


ourselves. Do you agree with your colleague, would regional


government boost our economy? been tried before by the previous


Labour government. My predecessor was very keen on the idea. We had a


referendum on it. I think it was rejected by a fair majority. We do


stand up for the north. There is a problem in the north, Andrew would


agree with me, we go to Westminster, we fight for our own constituencies,


I have been chasing ministers through the division lobby the


other day, I grabbed Ken Clarke and insisted he gave me five minutes of


his time. We do it any way S wouldn't mess with Ken Clarke.


agree with Karl. I partly represent East Yorkshire. The idea that we


have a regional government, I don't think it would go down very well


with my Lincolnshire residents. We do actually get a lot by working


together as local councilors and MPs. We got �150 million for the


Humber bridge. I like Austin but it is not that we get nothing. There's


been an issue with Yorkshire not getting as much as Scotland has


been getting. But I don't think if you ask the public they want a


whole other layer of politicians at this time. I was a member of the


East Midlands assembly and it did us no favours in Lincolnshire. As


we have a north and south divide, similarly with the east and west


divide, the towns and cities particularly the mining areas and


in Grimsby, they have much more power than the rural areas, in


rural communities are dying. Young people are moving, there are no


jobs. The farming industry, the farms get bigger and we lose the


jobs for the small hamlets. But there is opportunity there. Because


these are ripe for development. We could be revitalising the villages


and hamlets of Lincolnshire and that is what I am looking forward


to. Do we need more politicians in the form of regional assemblies?


you are going to do an opinion poll on the streets of Hull, I don't


think it is going to be at the top of anybody's list. It was rejected


in the north-east by 80% to 20% last time. What people want is more


jobs and more successful businesses in the economy. That is what


everybody is talking about. To do that we need Britain to be an


enterpriser. Not just small enterprise zones all over the place.


Etc You are a member of the youth parliament, what is your take on


this, regional government? people don't want more decision


makers, they don't want bureaucracy. Britain can be better. Economic


stability for hard-working families should be the priority. You don't


need billions of pounds to be invested. It is simple decisions


that need to be made. Anyone who suggests there is no skills or


talent amongst our kun trip, shame on them because every person in


this country is skilled, talented and full of ambition, but we must


invest in our people. We can drive this forward. We have plenty of


opportunities but we have got to get rid of bureaucracy. At the end


of the day, it is a shame on the government. Saying 97 to 2010, cut


the party politics, let's get down to the problem, hard-working people


want value for money and want the support. We have to engage with


them and give people skills, training and investment. The bigger


issue is that everybody's agreed they want to support working


families but we need to - it may not be in at the moment to talk


about it but we are still spending 120 million a day on interest. It


would be lovely to shower money all over the economy. It is about


priorities, Tim. We have gone through these arguments. I am quite


contrary to what is being said. It isn't about fierce of bureaucracy


and government, that is just the politics has a bad name. If you ask


anybody which is the Powerhouse of Europe, they will tell you Germany.


Germany is run on a series of federal skills reporting to central


government. It is built on a backbone of small and medium


enterprises that thrive off family industry. I think there is a real


opportunity for us. There is no rebalancing of the economy. That


has not happened. It is still the north and it is still the south.


There is a real opportunity, it will cost money but it is being


brave enough to get away from our old Conservative ways of doing


business in England and look to what the Scots and Welsh have done


and embrace it more. Anyone who wants to have their say. Rachel you


represent the needs of older people. We work with older people, over 50,


that is not old, is it. People are finding it incredibly hard because


the things they need they can't afford. A lot of older people have


a decision to make, to either be warm or hungry. That is really,


really unacceptable. I think as well we were talking about the


employment, older people are unemployed for longer and oler


people's unemployment is increasing as well. It It shoulding a priority,


that we can use their kills better. The only way I believe forward is


to get our entrepreneurs on the case. Unless entrepreneurs start


new businesses, we are shot. Just picking up on the point about


Germany. Banks in Germany tend to look at the long-term investment


with business is which has not not happened for many years in this


country. We are still suffering here from a lack of support through


the banking system. If you can get it, it is an exorbitant rate. We


have to get businesses able to find the the the source of support to


encourage them to trade. There are many opportunities around the world


to trade. There are many strong businesses in this country that can


develop further but we have to get rid of the log janl and that will


bring employment back. We have run out of time. Thank you to everyone


who had their say here. I am sorry you couldn't speak to everyone. I


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