LAST week, new figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed that the labour market is showing more signs of stability, with overall employment growing despite reductions in the public sector.
The Government recognises that there are challenges ahead and recognises that it can do a lot to help curb the increases and bring unemployment levels down.
Wealden has been fortunate to see continuing low levels of unemployment, but even the small increases we have seen recently are a matter of great concern, and show that there are still challenges ahead.
Wealden benefits from having a strong small business sector with fewer jobs in the state sector, where many of the reductions are happening.
Rising unemployment does not necessarily mean that there are actually fewer people in work.
Over the last quarter (December 2011-February 2012), the level of people in employment rose by 53,000, which emphasises that one of the main causes of rising unemployment is that more people are entering the labour markets, including women and students.
When the Government’s welfare reforms are taken into account, the number of Jobseeker Allowance claimants has actually fallen. We must do even more to tackle the problems of worklessness and dependency.
Next year, the Universal Credit will be introduced, which will replace all benefits, as well as introducing a cap on the overall amount people receive.
The Universal Credit will continue to provide a basic income for people as they make their journey from welfare to work, and ensure that people will always be better off in work.
The Government will provide personalised support to around 2.4 million people over the next five years, helping those most at risk of long-term unemployment through their Work Programme, which involves schemes to help those seeking employment to improve their prospects.
I hope that those who are struggling to find employment both locally and nationally will be reassured that the Government is looking at many different ways of putting as many people as possible back to work.