Big rise in town's jobless figures

PUBLISHED: 20:00 22 October 2011

Unemployment has risen in Weston almost 23%

Unemployment has risen in Weston almost 23%

Archant

THE number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance in Weston has risen almost 23 per cent since June 2009 according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The figures show the total number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Weston stands at 2,244 as of September 2011, or 3.3 per cent of the total population aged 16-64.

That is up from 2.7 per cent in June 2009, a 22.9 per cent increase. It is the 14th largest rise in the UK, measured by constituency but is still lower than the UK national average of 3.9 per cent. The figures also show that two thirds of claimants in Weston are men.

Gail Parsons, president of the town’s chamber of trade, said: “We have just come out of a recession and we have had a lot of redundancies, with an extraordinary number of businesses going bust.”

She said there are around 800 job vacancies in Weston, meaning there are more than 1,400 more people claiming Jobseekers’ than there are vacancies.

She said the chamber’s main objective is to attract new businesses into Weston so more new posts can be created and that North Somerset Council’s emphasis should be on creating and helping new businesses rather than building more housing.

“We need to look after what we’ve got now. Attracting more people into Weston when we already don’t have enough jobs for the people here will just exacerbate the problem,” she said. “There are not enough businesses in Weston. If we attract new businesses into the town then we can create employment opportunities. We are working on it and will continue to work hard on it, but it will take time.”

Adrian Stone, from employment and skills help body Weston Works, said: “It is bleak out there unfortunately, and I can only see things getting worse up until the spring.

All we can do is offer hope to people and ensure people have all the right skills in place and a positive attitude.”

He said the new Dolphin Square and Leisure Dome developments will create around 1,000 new jobs.

“If we can get quality retail stores into Dolphin Square then success breeds success. The need for more jobs is the bottom line,” he added.

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