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Gordon Brown promises action on unemployment

13 January 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
The Confederation of British Industry has urged the Government to take more action on rising unemployment as the recession takes hold and businesses topple under the weight of the credit crunch, and the Prime Minister has pledged to improve employment opportunities in the UK.

The Government is "committed to giving real help to people now", Gordon Brown said, addressing a summit of businesses and union leaders, which he hosted to discuss how to safeguard jobs during the downturn. The Government aims to "give people the skills they need" to get a job, he said.

According to research from the CBI, job losses are mounting as the amount of business that firms are doing "shrank at a record rate", with 59 per cent of businesses saying that sale volumes fell in the last quarter of 2008, and a quarter expecting them to fall further in the next three months.

More than half (55 per cent) of firms reported a decline in profitability for the second consecutive survey (the last was in September) from the CBI, and 45 per cent of businesses said that they are less optimistic about the overall state of the financial services sector's business situation than they were in September of last year.

The CBI does not expect the employment situation to improve over the coming months; rather, 35 per cent of businesses expect it to fall further in the next three months.

"2008 was the year the financial services industry would rather forget, and unfortunately it looks set to remain under pressure in early 2009." said John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI.

"As income and profitability have tumbled, so there will be more job losses and cuts in investment, and stark implications for the rest of the UK economy."

"The Government is going to have to take further steps to tackle these critical issues." he added.

The director general of Age Concern, Gordon Lishman, has also responded to the Government's job summit, saying that "With unemployment among the over 50s growing fastest of any age group, thousands of older workers face the grim reality of starting 2009 without a job and many more will be worried about the prospect of job losses this year."

Not only are people in this group the most vulnerable to the risk of redundancy, but they also face more of a struggle to get reemployed, Mr Lishman said, in light of ageist attitudes in the workplace.

"If the Government wants to help avoid thousands of willing workers becoming permanently unemployed, today's employment initiative must outline specific help for older workers." he continued. "It must also urgently scrap pointless Mandatory Retirement Ages so people who want and need to continue working can do so."

The Prime Minister has promised that the Government will act, warning that if it doesn't spend money to help the situation, then the cost of inaction now will escalate later, and the country would be headed for a "deeper and longer global recession".

"This will not happen on my watch." he said.

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