Beggs comments on latest unemployment figures

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has commented on the latest unemployment figures which have just been released.

They show that over the latest twelve month period there were a total of 4,311 proposed redundancies, an increase of 86% from the previous year (2,315). Currently there are 1,839 outstanding redundancies (that is, proposed but not confirmed), which is 141% higher than this time last year (762).

East Antrim MLA Mr Beggs said:

“For the month of October, more people (85) were made redundant in East Antrim that in any other constituency in Northern Ireland. This is undoubtedly related to the job losses at FG Wilsons.

It is a sobering thought that as bad as the current figures are, they are likely to get worse with the additional impact of Pattons going into administration and the knock on effect on local employees and subcontractors. Last week I met sub-contractors who highlighted the plight of a number of small and medium businesses totalling over 2,000 employees and who are owed in the order of £15m from Pattons.

The Ulster Unionist Party believes that the NI Executive needs to encourage more public/private infrastructure projects at this point in the recession. We have also been lobbying for a reduced VAT rate for the repair, maintenance and improvement of existing dwellings to specifically help the construction industry. I am pleased that the Assembly backed both of our policies, and I hope that Ministers will now take action. Building improved Health and Care Centres to replace those sub-standard Health Centres would provide local jobs, improve local care and take some pressure off our struggling Hospital Accident and Emergency services”

3,600 people have been added to the claimant count over the last 12 months at a time when the figure has been decreasing for the UK as a whole.

Roy Beggs MLA added;
“The unemployment situation is actually improving in the United Kingdom as a whole with the claimant count in the UK standing at 4.8% having fallen by 0.7 per cent over the past 12 months whereas our claimant count is 7%, and has been increasing. Northern Ireland cannot afford to fall further behind.

Every month in Northern Ireland a bad situation seems to be getting worse. The seasonally adjusted claimant count rate in NI (7.0%) was higher than the UK average rate (4.8%) and was the second highest rate among the twelve UK regions. This is the 31st consecutive month that NI has had the highest or second highest UK region unemployment rate. It is all too easy to talk about these figures as if they are some kind of abstract statistic and lose sight of the fact that they represent real people and real families suffering real hardship.

The Stormont Executive needs to utilise every possible tool available to try and minimise the impact of the current situation and aid recovery as soon as possible. Some things are outside the control of Stormont, but a decision on the devolution of Corporation Tax- one way or the other must be made as soon as possible.”

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