York could “spiral into a deep depression” and see 28% unemployment, a York MP told the House of Commons.
Labour’s Rachael Maskell urged business minister Kwasi Kwarteng to put the city at the heart of a Green New Deal to offset the economic damage.
She said that plans for devolution, which might see York and North Yorkshire combined under a single mayor, were a distraction.
The York Central MP told the minister: “With the Government having committed to invest in the bioscience sector in York, making it the heart of the green new deal, they are now trying to make that conditional on a local government reorganisation that is not only deeply unpopular but is also, frankly, unworkable.
“In the light of comments that York’s economy will be the second-worst hit in the country, with unemployment rising to as high as 28%, will the minister instead now bring forward that investment, to prevent mass unemployment in my city, to prevent unnecessary economic pain and to kick-start investment in green-collar jobs?”
High quality jobs
Mr Kwarteng replied: “We are absolutely committed to creating green-collar jobs. Today, we have 460,000 of those jobs across the UK; by 2030, we have stated our commitment to have 2 million such jobs.”
Speaking later Ms Maskell said York’s existing bioscience sector meant it “could be at the heart of the global fight against climate meltdown”.
However the MP said the government “are tying up devolution deals and unpopular local government reorganisations with economic investment” – which are unworkable and unpopular.
She said: “If the Government are serious about protecting people from unemployment, they should be bringing forward economic investment to places like York to ensure that people are rapidly reskilled and re-orientated towards the new economy.
“If investment is slow to come forward, York could spiral into a deep depression.
“York cannot delay the need to diversify its economy, and must not focus on low skilled, low waged, insecure jobs ever again, but give people of this city are real future with high quality jobs, and support skills development to enable everyone to access these.”