New businesses help jobless figures drop


- Credit: Archant

A DROP in unemployment in Weston is thanks to a rise in the number of people taking the plunge and starting their own businesses, according to two of the town’s commerce leaders.

New figures released by the Office For National Statistics show that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Weston as a parliamentary constituency has dropped from 3.6 per cent for July to September 2012 to 2.7 per cent for the same period this year.

The total number of claimants in September 2013 was 1,864 compared to 2,374 in the same month last year.

North Somerset Enterprise chairman Terry Gilbert said he has seen evidence first-hand of unemployed people in the area choosing to go self-employed.

He said: “There has been a massive increase in self-employment. We have been really busy helping people launch businesses in various domains.”

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The new businesses have had a success rate of about 86 per cent, he added.

Mr Gilbert said that one reason for the increase is that the Government provides benefits for those setting up a business.

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People starting a firm qualify for New Enterprise Allowance, paying slightly less per week than Jobseeker’s Allowance for three months to help people switch from the dole queue to a being a business owner.

He added: “The scheme has certainly worked here in North Somerset. We have had people making clothes, window cleaners, buying and selling products on eBay, a real mix.”

Weston Chamber of Commerce president Gail Parsons said: “It is a good sign and I believe we are recovering.

“People have used redundancy money to set up businesses and their success rate is quite high. It’s lovely to see.

“It is a very positive town. Confidence is rising.”

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