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West Midlands Has Become Britain’s Brexit Capital Due To Employment Failure

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West Midlands Has Become Britain's Brexit Capital Due To Employment Failure

A new report published by the independent think-tank the Resolution Foundation has revealed that a poor employment performance stretching back decades is turning the West Midlands city region into Britain’s biggest employment blackspot, and played a key role in the region’s vote to leave the EU.

As the area prepares to elect its first ever Metro Mayor in May, the Foundation says that tackling these longstanding employment problems should be a top priority for both the new Mayor and national government. It is calling on Whitehall to recalibrate its flagship ‘Midlands Engine’ project – which currently stretches from the Severn to the Humber – so that it focuses on making the West Midlands city region jobs-fit.

The Foundation says that the West Midlands’ jobs woes were a significant factor behind its support for Brexit. Its analysis finds that the region as a whole delivered the strongest vote to leave of any region in the UK, once other characteristics such as age and income were controlled for, while Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley saw amongst the largest Leave votes in the country.

The report shows the depth of the West Midlands city region’s jobs failure, including:

  • Entering the downturn with the lowest employment rate of any city region at 66.3 per cent, following slower-than-average jobs growth in the years running up to the financial crisis;
  • Not sharing in the recent jobs miracle across the UK, with employment prospects having only improved at a glacial pace since the depths of the downturn in 2011. The West Midlands now has the lowest employment rate of any major city region at just 64.5 per cent; and,
  • Having employment troubles that are shared across the region. Solihull is the only local authority to have a higher employment rate than the city region average at 72.7 per cent. Birmingham is bottom of the pack with employment down at 60.9 per cent, followed by Walsall at 65.1 per cent.

Looking at the reasons behind the West Midlands’ employment troubles, the report highlights three groups that are experiencing particular troubles finding work: young people, BAME and low-qualified workers. It notes that barely half of all young people aged 16-29 are in work (51 per cent).

The report also highlights a poor recent performance on pay – the West Midlands’ lost its pay premium over other city regions during the 2000s – which has meant that living standards across the region started to stagnate even before the crisis.

The Foundation adds that despite the bleak picture on employment, there are plenty of grounds for optimism that the region can turn its fortunes around. It notes that young people receiving free school meals in state-funded schools in the West Midlands city region are more likely to progress to higher education than in any city other than London. It also has the highest proportion of students of any city region.

Looking ahead to how the new Metro Mayor can turn the region’s economic prospects around, the Foundation highlights three key priorities:

  • Ensure the city region has a ‘jobs rich’ industrial strategy. As well as capitalising on its strong manufacturing base, the city region should also look to expand into more ‘jobs-rich’ areas such as the high value services sector, such as insurance and financial services;
  • Utilise the West Midlands’ ‘human goldmine’ of its large student population. Improving its graduate retention rates by attracting knowledge jobs to the region would boost productivity and create spillover benefits for local non-graduates too; and,
  • Prioritise support for disadvantaged groups. The report calls for investment in back-to-work programmes to support young and low-qualified people into employment, along with specific outreach programmes for the region’s BAME population.

The West Midlands’ terrible record on job creation has created a huge employment blackspot and was a key factor behind its overwhelming vote to leave the EU.

Conor D’Arcy, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“The West Midlands’ terrible record on job creation has created a huge employment blackspot and was a key factor behind its overwhelming vote to leave the EU.

“Turning the city region’s economic prospects around will be a huge task facing the new Mayor, and they should have the full backing of central government too. Whitehall should recalibrate its flagship Midlands engine project to supporting the new Mayor in overseeing a long overdue jobs boom across the West Midlands.

“This approach will be particularly important for those struggling to find work, such as young people, those with poor qualifications and the region’s large BAME population. A jobs-rich recovery would also ensure that the whole region benefits from rising living standards. Its strong record on getting young people into university shows that there is plenty of potential for the new Mayor to harness.

“For years the West Midlands has been ignored as previous governments have focused on making London the financial capital of the world and Manchester a Northern Powerhouse. It’s high time Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country are brought out of the shadows and made the focus of a national renaissance for Britain’s major cities.”

Features

The World’s Top Cities for Owning a Green Home

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Demand for green homes has risen sharply in recent years. Dodge Data & Analytics’ SmartMarket Report stated that over half of homebuilders project that 60% or more of the homes they build will be green within the next three years.

While the outlook for green home is surging throughout the world, growth is far from uniform. The outlook in some cities remains much stronger than others. Here are some of the best cities in the world for building or buying a green home.

Vancouver

Vancouver has a population of nearly 650,000 people. It has a surprisingly low levels of pollution for a city its size. According to research from Siemens, air quality is significantly better than most other communities of the same size. The city government has expressed a desire to improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions even further. They expect to cut air pollution by 30% by 2020. Many people in the community have green homes and the government is likely to offer new incentives for green homes in the future.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is rated as the best city in the United States to own a green home. Within a 12-month period, over one in three homes that were sold were environmentally friendly. Demand for green homes in Philadelphia is higher than other homes. The average green home costs 45% more than homes that lack green features.

Elliot Springs

Australia has begun making substantial progress on the green energy front in recent years. According to one company that offers house and land for sale near Townsville, a growing number of houses are built around sustainability.

Curitiba

Brazil is not known for its commitment to green energy. The city of Curitiba is an exception. Despite being surrounded by communities that lack its vision of a green renaissance, the Siemens report shows that the city is outperforming the global green living index.

Some indexes rank the city even higher. Grist ranks it as the third greenest city on earth.

“As a whole, the green urban areas in Curitiba are among the largest in the world and every inhabitant of the city has approximately 52 m² of nature to romp about in. Brazil’s green capital makes a tremendous effort to preserve the city’s natural environment and is regarded by many as one of the world’s best examples of green urban planning.”

Boston

When most people picture Boston, they usually envision a city filled with smog. This stereotype arises among people that have visited the city off and on over the last 50 years. However, it has made tremendous progress over the past decade and has started to become one of the greenest cities in the United States.

The changes are being driven in Fenway. This is one of the least developed areas of the city, so most new construction is focused on creating green building structures. Older parts of the city have existing housing, which is often decades old. After these buildings need to be replaced, the city will try to focus on green initiatives. This will help the city receive even more attention as a green city.

Copenhagen

Denmark as a whole is an incredibly green country. Few people own cars and homes are minimalistic, which reduces CO2 emissions. Copenhagen leads the charge in the country’s commitment to green living, so it is rated as the cleanest city in all of Europe.

Copenhagen hasn’t needed to make nearly as much effort to earn this title as most other cities, largely due to the culture that rejects decadence and embraces sustainability. Citizens have coordinated with the government to boost green living, but most of these conditions are driven by free market ideals. They haven’t needed to rely nearly as extensively on central planning as San Francisco and other Western cities.

Cultural Nodes Are Driving the Green Housing Market

Some of the largest cities in the world are embracing a cosmopolitan view that encourages green living. This is propelling demand for green housing in their areas and the rest of the world. People that want to buy a green home should consider investing in one of these areas.

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Energy

China Unexpectedly Emerging as Global Leader in Green Technology

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green technology

In the late 20th century, China underwent an amazing industrial revolution. However, in the process, it produced far more pollution, which raised concerns about global warming. The United Nations Environmental Council placed a lot of pressure on China to reduce its carbon footprint. It is clearly making headway now and may actually be a shining example for the rest of the world to follow.

China is Taking Environmental Concerns More Seriously than Ever Before

In recent years, China has made tremendous progress. In 2014, the World Bank praised the Chinese government for integrating forest development, biodiversity conservation and carbon reduction strategies. According to the World Bank analysis, china increased its forest cover by nearly 50% between the late 1980s and 2005. While analysts stated that those levels were still significantly below the global average, they stated that China is clearly headed in the right direction.

“China has long been a forest-poor country. Though its forest cover increased from 13 percent in the 1980s to 18.2 percent by 2005 thanks to an extensive plantations program, the hectare per capita of 0.13 remained significantly below the world average of 0.6.  With rapid economic growth, China’s forests came under intense pressure due to the growing demand for timber and pulpwood. The logging ban introduced by the government in 1998 further aggravated the wood shortage. This challenge was more acute in Guangxi, where combined with weak forest resources protection  resulted in a threat to its unique biodiversity including one of the largest and most important representatives of karst ecosystem in the world.”

The government’s policies to improve forest area and reduce carbon emissions are highly encouraging, but their new focus on green energy is even more impressive. In May, Premier Li Keqiang announced that the country is tapering steel production and relying less on coal-powered electricity. They have made substantial investments in wind and energy power, which are beginning to make a difference all over the world. They are also investing more heavily in solar. In fact, they developed the world’s largest floating solar plant.

Many environmental experts feel that the country has gone from being one of the worst contributors to climate change to a shining role model in the quest to save the environment.

What drove China to make these changes? The biggest incentive was the need to save it so when people from pollution. National Geographic reports that approximately 1.1 million people die from air pollution in China every year. The government needed to institute massive changes to reverse this epidemic.

Additional progress it is still needed

Nations around the world should applaud China for making such revolutionary changes to save its own citizens in the rest of the world. However, the country still needs to implement more changes to set itself on the right track.

The government has passed a number of regulations to improve air quality. However, many businesses have been reluctant to follow them.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection surveyed nearly 20,000 companies across northern China. They found that 70% of those companies or nearly 14,000 failed to meet environmental standards.

Some of the violations were fairly benign and easy to rectify. Others were far more severe. According to the report, which was published on a state new site, nearly 5,000 companies were operating in on off the rise locations or fail to secure the right environmental permits. The ministry of environmental protection states that stricter enforcement is necessary.

Despite the fact there are still areas for improvement, China is still headed in the right direction. It simply needs to examine some of the ongoing challenges and find new ways to save money.

China May Lead the World in the Fight Against Climate Change

Li Keqiang and other Chinese officials are taking environmental concerns far more seriously than their predecessors. The country is expected to roll out new policies in the future and may be one of the global leaders in the fight against climate change.

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