Friday 23 May 2014

Is the economy picking up in the South West? ................... Or, "Jobs boost for construction sector................"

Questions have been raised as to how the 'revivial' of the economy is working locally:
Futures Forum: Is the economy picking up in East Devon? ... Or, the importance of tourism to the region's economy......
... especially with a view to the importance of the tourist industry:
New research reveals economic value of the South West Coast Path - News - South West Coast Path

Nevertheless, the number of unemployed in the region is falling:
Job Seekers Allowance claims fall across Devon | North Devon Journal

The number of people out of work in the city continues to fall as official figures show there are a record high number of workers across the South West.
But almost 2,000 men and women across Exeter and East Devon are still unemployed and cannot fight for jobs on their own.

Hundreds of unemployed people seek help at Exeter's 'Super Job Club' | Exeter Express and Echo

However, whilst the Prime Minister has been hailing a 'recovery' for some time now - based largely on the surge in government-supported house-building
PM: South West economy is turning a corner | Exeter Express and Echo
Jobs boost for construction sector (From This is The West Country)
Regional growth continues to outpace London | News | Architects Journal
Housebuilding continues to pick-up across the South West | The Exeter Daily Housebuilding continues to pick-up across the South West

... it seems that the Commons Public Accounts Committee is questioning central government's commitment to the regions:

Government regional jobs plan 'failing', say MPs

By GDemianyk  |  Posted: May 15, 2014
The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that since the coalition came to power in 2010 less than £400 million has been invested through various programmes.MPs have criticised the Government’s flagship policies to boost jobs in the regions for not getting £3.9 billion allocated to businesses to them quickly enough.

A minister dismissed the report as based on “old figures”, and insisted money was getting to local projects.

But the committee’s audit squares with an analysis by the Western Morning News, revealed last week, underlining how at least £90 million destined for the South West remains in Whitehall.

The PAC also questioned the Government’s projections for jobs created or safeguarded by the programmes, arguing they are “wildly over-optimistic”.

The funding was supposed to be channelled to the regions through a series of initiatives – such as the Regional Growth Fund and Enterprise Zones – set up by the coalition after it abolished the nine regional development authorities, including one covering the South West.

Progressing in creating jobs was said to have fallen “well short” of ministers’ expectations of 550,000 jobs created or safeguarded between 2011 and the mid-2020s, with only 65,000 so far secured.

“Despite the large sums available for promoting economic growth locally, little money has actually reached businesses,” said Margaret Hodge, the committee chairman.

“The departments have not managed the local growth initiatives as a coordinated programme with a common strategy, objectives or plan. The departments need to learn lessons from the current programme and adopt a more coordinated and strategic approach when introducing the new growth deals next year.”

More than half of £170 million of Regional Development Fund to be pumped into the South West has yet to reach firms in the region, a parliamentary answer showed last week.

Local Growth Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Britain’s economy is growing and more people are in work today than ever before. Not only have we rebalanced the books, but we’ve created more jobs and growth outside of London.”
Government regional jobs plan 'failing', say MPs | Western Morning News
House of Commons - Public Accounts Committee - No - Minutes of Evidence: HC 777

Meanwhile, there has been an initiative to raise levels of pay in the South West:
South West needs a pay rise! | our wages have been held back… it's time to unleash them!

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