From education to employment

The Government Keen to Exploit Olympic Opportunity

The Government are using the successful Olympic bid to introduce a new project that they hope will regenerate run-down parts of the capital.

Margaret Hodge, the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, has outlined the new initiative, labelled “Building on success: London’s challenge for 2012”, which will tackle issues such as unemployment. The project will bring together local businesses and government, enabling boroughs in East London to exploit opportunities in the City and the Thames Gateway development. Whilst, it is hoped, boroughs in West London will reap the benefits of the Fair Cities Initiative in Brent and from local businesses supporting the local economy.

A Quarter of a Million Into Work

Margaret Hodge explained the details of the new project, “The fact is that for London to reach the national average for employment we need to get a further 250,000 people in work. The jobs are there, but what I want us to do is ensure that Londoners benefit from them. Pathfinders will help us achieve that.

“2012 presents us with an once-in-a-lifetime chance to knock down some of the barriers that prevent Londoners from making the most of the opportunities that this citys continued growth and success can provide,” she continued. “The pathfinders will pool together money and expertise across the private and public sector. Giving them the freedom to use their resources as they see fit, to meet challenging targets on getting people back into the workplace and ensure the Games give the city a legacy that reaches far beyond what is achieved on the sports field.”

Five Boroughs

The East London Pathfinder will help establish the project in the five Olympic boroughs of Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The West London Pathfinder will be focusing on the local economies of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow, building on the success of the Fair Cities Initiative.

Margaret Hodge stressed that winning the Olympic bid could be a boost for London as a whole rather than just for those in the East. “Whilst there has been an inevitable focus on what the Games will mean for East London,” she said, “it is important that the whole city is able to take advantage of this opportunity. The Fair Cities initiative in Brent is an example of what can be achieved where employers work closely with Government and Jobcentre Plus to help meet both their needs and those of people seeking work.

“Local companies want to employ local people and where government can facilitate this it should. This is what our proposals for the welfare state are about. Using what works, ensuring the state can be flexible enough to meet the needs of individuals and making the most of local expertise,” she concluded.

The Government is making all the right noises when presenting its plan to maximise the opportunities the 2012 Olympics can provide. The extra business revenue should encourage corporate investment, potentially regenerating whole boroughs, creating work and wealth and reviving the ancient transport infra-structure of the Capital.

However, there are a lot of balls to keep in the air at once and there is a fear that the Government are trying to load too much into the Olympic bandwagon. Let’s just hope they don”t drop any of the balls, as the Olympics offer a real opportunity to improve the lives of many Londoners.

Dan Atkinson

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