Council Leaders Call For Local Approach To Recession

(politics.co.uk) – A NATIONAL APPROACH TO THE RECESSION will not help the countryside recover or improve rural area job prospects, local council leaders said today.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which speaks for the 423 local authorities in England and Wales, insisted that councils should have more say in economic policies.

It found the number of people for each vacancy in rural areas has increased by almost four times in the last year.

Figures from job centres, published today, showed that, for each job in urban areas, there are nine job seekers compared to only six in the countryside. But, in the countryside, the number of people for every job has risen at a quicker rate than in urban areas in the last year, according to the research.

Jobseekers’ Allowance figures indicated that the number of claimants per vacancy in cities has risen 227% from 2.8, in May 2008, to 9.2 in May 2009; while it rose 287% in the countryside from 1.6, in May 2008, to 6.2 in May 2009.

Ms Eaton, chairman of the LGA, said: ‘It is deeply worrying for rural areas that the outlook for jobseekers in the countryside has deteriorated at a quicker rate than in the cities.

‘The very special needs of the rural economy must not be overlooked as the recession continues to bite and unemployment continues to rise.

‘Market towns and villages tend to be much more reliant on family-run, independent businesses, which are at particular risk of going under during tough financial times.’

She said the closure of big chain shops, such as Woolworths, would have a bigger impact in the countryside where vacant shops are harder to fill.

LGA research showed that 86% of local councils had seen a rise in empty shops in the last six months — with 64% of them finding it had had ‘a significant or moderate impact on their town centre.’

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