Coast struggles to keep up on employment

Employment nationally is high, but lagging on most of the Fylde Coast
Employment nationally is high, but lagging on most of the Fylde Coast

Unemployment across the North West has risen despite national employment figures remaining close to last month’s record.

On the Fylde coast and in Lancashire the number of people claiming benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit to top up low earnings rose in every constituency apart from Wyre.

In the Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency, the number of people claiming work age benefits was 1,540 up 0.1 per cent on the previous month.

In Blackpool South the figure was 2,250, up 0.3 per cent, in Fylde it was 685, up 0.1 per cent, in Lancaster and Fleetwood, 1,190, up 0.4 per cent and in Wyre it was 375, down 0.1 per cent.

Across the North West unemployment went up by 5,000 with 4.2 per cent of the population out of work.

Nationally, the number of people in work has fallen by 56,000 between August and October to just over 32 million, the Office for National Statistics said.

The claimant count, which includes people on Jobseeker’s Allowance and the unemployment element of Universal Credit, increased by 5,900 last month to 817,500.

And the number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those on long-term sick leave, taken early retirement or who have given up looking for work, increased by 115,000 to 8.8 million.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative MP Paul Maynard said: “I welcome that nationally unemployment continues to fall, meaning more people are in work, taking home a pay packet and are able to provide for their families.

“I am aware of the continued challenges for people in Blackpool but even so, there are nearly 25 per cent more people in work now in Blackpool than there were in 2010.

“Government investment in a better railway, improved roads as well as new education and social mobility opportunities through schemes such as the Opportunity Area can only help improve not only the number but the quality of jobs available in the future.

“Equally it is vital Blackpool Council provides an environment in which small businesses, the backbone of the UK economy, can grow and flourish.”

Blackpool South Labour MP Gordon Marsden has blamed the Government’s austerity policy for underemployment on the Fylde coast.

He was speaking after the latest unemployment figures showed most parts of the coast and the North West generally lagged behind the national average.

He said: “This is further evidence that we are falling behind in terms of the economic situation.

“It has been made worse by the huge cuts that have been made in public finding.

“Blackpool Council is doing a great job in trying to create more employment.”

He said the statistics did not reflect the number of people now working on lower hours and zero hours contracts and the “continuing fiasco” of Universal Credit was causing further hardship to people in the area.

He added: “We need a much bigger boost from the Government in terms of skills and apprenticeships, where their national policy is in disarray."

He said that uncertainty over Brexit would have an impact on the local economy as businesses were affected by import and export changes and exchange rates and were wary of new investment and therefore job creation.