In a debate today in Parliament Angela Smith, Member of Parliament for Penistone and Stocksbridge, will identify the major issues the borough faces in the extremely difficult economic circumstances it is facing.
For generations the town had depended on the coal industry to provide large scale manual labour employment and a social infrastructure. This was abruptly withdrawn leaving a vacuum that is yet to be filled.
In her speech she will highlight the fact that there are just not enough jobs in the borough. To reach the regional average, itself a low figure, would require an extra 24,000 jobs to be created.
The borough has the third lowest employment rate in Yorkshire and Humber at 67%, and requires 6,100 residents finding employment.
There are currently 6,962 which is significantly higher than the national average but more worrying is that youth unemployment is almost double the national average. These figures mean a high level of welfare dependency, with around a fifth of the working population claiming some form of out of work benefit.
In her speech she will call on the government to do more to help Barnsley and other similar towns. Specifically she will call on the government to:
1. Address the void left by the demise of Business Link arguing that a national ‘one size fits all’ does not help places like Barnsley.
2. Target UKTI inward investment to areas with less economic activity first, instead of prioritising investment in the South East.
3. Consideration should be give the reinstatement of the Grants for Business Investment scheme that allowed SMEs to make capital investments in plant and machinery, as the regional growth fund is a poor substitute and tied up in red tape.
Further, she will argue that the town needs a return of the Future Jobs Fund which was for Barnsley highly successful in getting people back into work who had not worked for some time.
Commenting Angela said; “Barnsley is a proud town. For generations it depended on coal to provide thousands of well paid manual jobs. Like many towns who depended on one industry to provide economic prosperity it was hit hard when that industry disappeared almost overnight.
“After taking many years to slowly get over the worst The recent downturn has hit the borough very hard. The town needs so much more help to recover from its industrial past.
“However, what’s on offer from this government is at best patchy and at worst destructive. I call on the government to recognise that and do much more to help towns such as Barnsley.”Other news from Sheffield Labour