Queen’s Speech: Commitment to community investment welcome
published on 11 May 2021
The Salvation Army is pleased the Government has introduced bills to ‘level up’ the country in today’s Queen’s Speech.
The church and charity is urging the Government to balance investment in infrastructure with supporting people to find and stay in work. It is hoped the Government will continue to build on measures like Employment Plus that support job training, roll out further apprentice schemes like Kickstart, but also introduce practical measures like improving childcare to help struggling families earn.
Rebecca Keating, Director of The Salvation Army’s Employment Services, said:
“We are delighted that the Government recognise it’s time to ‘level up’ the country. It’s becoming clear that the economic impact of the pandemic has hit some regions harder than others and it’s right the Government is pledging to tackle this head on.
“The expansion of Employment Plus is an excellent way of supporting people who are desperate to work but need to update their skills and rethink how to find work in a changing world.
“Although initial signs suggest the economy is set to bounce back, it’s vital we don’t leave some communities behind. ‘Levelling up’ needs a regional approach and should balance spending on things like transport infrastructure with investment in training and support.
“The Salvation Army has commissioned an extensive research project which will examine what communities need to fully recover and begin to flourish.
“We hope our project, to be published in the summer, will help influence the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, and will identify locations in England most in need of funds. The report will also recommend a series of targeted interventions to help those in low-paid work retrain and increase their earnings.”
The church and charity is calling on the Government to:
- ensure the planned investment focuses on community programmes, alongside physical infrastructure projects.
- Continue to invest in training programmes with a focus on job creation for people who have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic.
- involve local communities in discussions on how the funding should be spent.
Since 2011 The Salvation Army has run Employment Plus services in more than 65 locations across the country. Employment Plus works with people who need additional help to find employment, like those who need basic workplace skills, or literacy and numeracy classes before they can begin to look for work.
The Salvation Army is also offering 85 young people, who claim Universal Credit, the opportunity to gain employment as part of the Government’s Kickstart scheme, with more than two thirds of the roles at the church and charity filled so far. The initiative is a six-month paid job placement, funded by the Government, and aims to help those at risk of long-term unemployment.