Businesses call for help on jobs

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A business leader has called on the Government to freeze business rates, reduce national insurance contributions and cut red tape as another 1,200 people joined the dole queue.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the county rose from 14,348 in December to 15,569 last month, figures released yesterday showed.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Further steps need to be taken to allow companies to grow and create more jobs.

“With our Business is Good for Northants campaign, which was launched at the beginning of this month, we are lobbying the Government to acknowledge that businesses are the key to overcoming this recession and that by taking measures such as cancelling the rise in business rates planned for April, reducing national insurance contributions and cutting red tape, businesses would be granted a little more freedom to grow and create much-needed jobs.”

The number of claimants in January rose by 124 in Kettering to 2,229, 126 in East Northamptonshire to 1,512, and 92 in Wellingborough to 2,144.

But Corby fared worst with 264 more claimants – three times the Wellingborough increase – bumping the dole queue up to 1,976.

Mr Griffiths said: “Corby stands out as showing quite a sharp increase in unemployment when compared to other towns in the county.

“This is largely down to a number of large employers announcing redundancies or site closures in recent months, such as Tata Steel, Argos and Eddie Stobart.

“Some of these were announced in the new year, so these figures will more than likely show an increase again next month.”

But he pointed out that the county increase of 3.5 per cent was lower than the East Midlands increase of 3.9 per cent and the nationwide rise of four per cent.

Mr Griffiths backed the Government’s £1bn Youth Contract, which aims to provide 410,000 new work places for 18 to 24-year-olds over the next three years from April.

Steve Roome, Jobcentre Plus district manager, said: “The labour market is undoubtedly still tough in Northamptonshire, as it is across the country, but through Jobcentre Plus alone there are currently more than 3,200 jobs advertised in the area, with more opportunities available through other agencies.

“So it’s important people don’t give up looking for work, as new jobs become available every day.”