Category: Economy

Job Watch Ludlow – No change in unemployment in Ludlow is good news as we deal with the second Covid-19 wave

This is a good as it gets these days. Unemployment, as measured by claimants on Jobseekers and on Universal Credit who are seeking work, in Ludlow remained static between August and September. Our town had 410 claimants for Jobseekers or work related Universal Credit. The unemployment rate in Ludlow North, which includes the town centre remains stubbornly high at 8%. This probably a result of reduced employment in our pubs, bars and hotels.

Job Watch Ludlow – Unemployment rises again in our town, especially Ludlow North

This in an unsurprising story. It is not a cheerful story. It is a story that will inevitably get worse. But it is important an important story for our community in Ludlow and for Shropshire. More people are out of work and are signing on for benefits. In Ludlow, the number of claimants – people looking for work – grew by 8% between July and August. This is nowhere near as big a jump we saw at the beginning of lockdown but it is an upward trend in a time when jobs are being destroyed, not created. Over the last year, Ludlow claimants have increased from 155 to 465 people – a 268% increase. This is higher than the Shropshire and national trends, especially in the Ludlow North ward where the annual growth was 344%.

Job Watch Ludlow – huge leap in unemployment following lockdown – we can’t assume that jobs will reappear after the epidemic

Today saw the publication of national and local unemployment statistics. As expected, the data make grim reading. It shows people in the local job market have lost their jobs and people hoping to get into employment are struggling to get a job. The latest data for July show that 385 people in Ludlow were claiming employment related benefits. A year ago, just 165 people were claiming. That’s a huge leap for a small town like ours. In Ludlow, the claimant rate in June was 6.8%. That’s higher that the rate for Great Britain (6.3%) and nearly half as big again as the rate across Shropshire (4.6%). That’s bad news. Although the doubling of 185 claimants in May to 385 this is undoubtedly down to the Covid-19 epidemic, we must be concerned that local jobs could be lost permanently as the nation’s economy weakens.

Ludlow as a socially distanced town – new signage to be discussed with Shropshire Council next week #coronavirus

We must get our town back into business. It’s going to be tough. We must move into unknown territory as a socially distanced town. Every business will need to adjust the way they work. We must allow cafes and pubs to spill into our streets. Allow businesses to sell their wares from tables on their frontage. Some streets should be closed at weekends and public holidays. The market must reopen. A lot of decisions need to be made. First up will be new signage. A street meeting of officers and councillors on Tuesday afternoon will look at locations for up to 155 new signs around the town ordering people to keep apart. That is a huge number of signs for Ludlow. It is a lot of clutter. It could feel intimidating in a town known for its friendliness. A better model would be gateway signs, with a small number of repeaters. We need signs telling people they are welcome in a socially distanced town. And carefully placed reminders emphasising this is a socially distanced town.

It has taken a little while to get new systems in place to pay government grant money to local businesses. But matters seem to have been resolved. Except the biggest issue. More than 1,500 businesses have not yet applied for the money. A minority of these may not be eligible for grants under EU rules. But it is still puzzling that one in five Shropshire businesses had not made a claim by last Wednesday. Up the road in Telford and Wrekin, almost all businesses have received the money they are due. That is an extraordinary difference. I can’t explain it. Shropshire Council needs now to go into overdrive to ensure that all businesses eligible for funding get the money they are due.

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