Labour shadow minister Liam Byrne in Burnley

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Liam Byrne (centre) takes part in some lively debate during the 'New Politics, Fresh Ideas' public event at the Vanguard Centre in Burnley. Photo Ben Parsons
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Liam Byrne (centre) takes part in some lively debate during the 'New Politics, Fresh Ideas' public event at the Vanguard Centre in Burnley. Photo Ben Parsons

MORE jobs need to be created if welfare reform is to be successful according to the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on a visit to Burnley.

Mr Liam Byrne visited Burnley Job Centre and the town’s Vanguard Centre where he spoke to people about their concerns and hopes for the future as part of the biggest review of Labour Party policy for nearly 20 years.

Speaking to the Express about the Coalition Government’s pilot project in Burnley and Aberdeen to curb the so-called “benefits culture” Mr Byrne said it would only work if more jobs were created.

He said: “The Government is right to crack on with welfare reform, something started under Labour, but we are worried there’s not enough jobs being created to go alongside it.

“Here in Burnley there are seven people chasing every vacancy and the Government’s wish for the private sector to create more jobs just isn’t happening quickly enough.

“We think the Government is cutting too much too quickly, particularly from the public sector, which will only lead to more people being on benefits and less paying tax.

“Youth unemployment was coming down when we left office but that has now gone into reverse.”

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions show 29.6% of 1,347 incapacity benefit claimants reassessed in Burnley and Aberdeen were capable of going into a job.

Mr Byrne said he supported welfare reform but said more help should be given to people looking for work.

He added: “I’m worried for Burnley. We have to help people, not break people. The country needs serious investment in manufacturing and infrastructure to create more traditional jobs.

“It’s true that in the past the country has relied too much on the banking sector. Traditional industries have collapsed, particularly in Burnley, and we need to reinvigorate those.”