Finding work for east Londoners would benefit economy by �4.5bn says Olympics host boroughs’ director

Getting out-of-work people in east London into Olympics jobs and other work programmes would contribute �4.5bn a year to the national economy according to the host boroughs’ director.

But barriers in getting the long-term unemployed in the six Olympic boroughs, including Tower Hamlets, into work remain according to a London Assembly committee.

Roger Taylor, director of the Host Borough Unit, said reducing levels of unemployment in east London and “increasing skills levels” would produce an economic windfall for the country.

Speaking to the Assembly’s Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism committee yesterday, he said: “That’s just about switching from an excessive dependence on benefits into significant tax revenues.”

There are 23,500 people in Tower Hamlets who are unemployed or “economically inactive”, which means they haven’t sought work in the last four weeks or aren’t available to work, according to the latest jobs figures.

Nearly 6 per cent of the working age population is also claiming Jobseekers Allowance, above the national average of 3.7 per cent and close to a quarter of those have been claimants for over a year.

Dee Doocey, the Assembly’s chair, raised concerns that regeneration in east London resulting from the Olympics could be “another Canary Wharf” that doesn’t benefit low-skilled east Londoners.

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The committee discussed if jobs and volunteering around the 2012 Games could help east Londoners into long-term employment.

It is estimated that by the time of the opening ceremony, 100,000 people will be working on the Games.

Lindsey Donoghue, the employment manager at the Bromley by Bow Centre, said: “The roles are quite short-term and some people have been on benefits for quite a long time.

“They feel comfortable on those or perhaps feel that coming off them might be a risk.”

She said the centre hadn’t benefited directly from Olympic funding, but had used programmes like Personal Best, which aims to use volunteering to help the disadvantaged into work.

The committee will quiz London mayor Boris Johnson and members of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on Olympics jobs in March.

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