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Stourbridge MP slams claims she ignored students' jobs plea
9:42am Wednesday 12th September 2012 in News
STOURBRIDGE MP Margot James has rubbished claims she has ignored plans to tackle youth unemployment.
Around 125 students at Stourbridge College and King Edward VI College signed a petition calling on Ms James to support the Midlands Trade Union Congress (TUC) Charter For a Future That Works.
Supporters say the charter aims to reduce a ten per cent youth unemployment rate in the Black Country, but they claim the Conservative MP refused to back the plan when it was presented to her at a constituency surgery.
Rob Johnston, regional secretary of Midlands TUC, said: “It is extremely disappointing that Margot James has decided to ignore pleas from students in her constituency for her to take action on youth unemployment.
“It seems that all Margot James is prepared to offer her young constituents is the bitter pill of continued austerity and long term unemployment."
The charter, which has so far had no positive reaction from any Black Country Tory MPs, calls for a government-backed promise of paid work or training for long-term unemployed young people, guarantees of job interviews at the end of work experience placements, reform of Job Seekers Allowance to fund young people in full-time education, more apprenticeships and financial support for expenses like public transport.
Margot James slammed Mr Johnston's claim she ignored the students, she said: "It is a travesty of the truth and if he knew me he would know that. I am very committed to young people, particularly those in disadvantaged circumstances.
"I had a good discussion with the students and promised to write to them, I hardly think they could claim to have been ignored.
"The reason I couldn't sign the charter was because I don't think the government can guarantee a job for all young people who are out of work for six months - and it would be dishonest to offer that promise."
Ms James says apprenticeship places have gone up by 64 per cent in Stourbridge over the last two years and she is currently working on a new initiative to increase aspirations for teenagers in the region.
She added: "Nationally there are more young people going into work through the Work Programme and we have an awful lot of work experience placements already."