Boris Johnson has been dubbed “out of touch” by Jennette Arnold, London Assembly Member for North East London.
Her comments follow the Mayor’s response to the high unemployment figures recently released, which he said were a result of the poor work ethic of young people living in London.
In an interview with The Sun last week, the Mayor of London said some young people are out of work because they lack “energy and appetite”. He went on to say that Londoners should learn from hardworking foreigners who are employed in the capital. “There are large numbers of job vacancies. Why are young people not taking up those jobs? … Let’s talk about the work ethic.”
Chair of the London Assembly, Jennette Arnold, who serves Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forrest, said the Mayor’s comments were “inappropriate and totally disrespectful”.
She told EastLondonLines: “Our young people are hardworking and ambitious but their fears for the future are being ignored. Instead of blaming them, Boris Johnson should be bending over backwards to help them.”
Regarding Johnson’s claim that foreigners are getting jobs because young Londoners are lazy, the former nurse and OBE winner asked: “Where is the evidence?”
A spokesperson for the London Development Agency said that Hackney’s relatively low employment levels are a result of high living costs, particularly in housing and childcare, making it difficult for people to get into work. The agency also has said many Londoners lack basic employability skills.
Tunde Banjoko, chief executive of the charity LEAP, said: “Young people are capable of having a work ethic if they are engaged with the right organisations and processes. We are an organisation that has been successfully working with young people for almost 20 years teaching them the right skills, behaviours and attitudes to get into work.”
But Arnold said she believes the issue is that there are just not enough jobs currently available: “The Mayor claims there are a large number of jobs, but where do you find these large numbers of jobs in a recession? He needs to get down from his cloud of Boris Cuckoo land and start helping the people of Hackney and London out!”
Recent figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealed that the total number of people looking for work in Hackney has risen by 12.8 per cent since last year. There are now 28,252 people who are unemployed and actively seeking work, and, with only 1,656 vacancies available in the borough, this means there are 17 people for every job.