Agenda item

Staffordshire Means Back to Business - Oral Update

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills



Decision – That the oral report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills giving an update on “Staffordshire Means Back to Business” activity including the following matters be noted:


·       This month saw an increase of 545 claimants, and the total number of claimants in the county now stands at 16,045 or 3%. The claimant count rate in Staffordshire continues to be one of the lowest in the West Midlands and lower than the average for England of 3.9% of the working age population.


·       The youth claimant count in Staffordshire saw an increase of 60 claimants to a total of 2,935 young people. The proportion of young people in Staffordshire aged 18-24 that are claiming work-related Universal Credit has increased this month from 4.6% to 4.7%, although this remains lower than the national rate of 5% and far lower than the regional rate of 6.7%.


·       Demand for labour and skills however remains high, with there currently being 1.1 jobs available for every claimant within the county, and therefore our focus continues to be to support those that unfortunately find themselves unemployed, to transition into work.


·       The visitor economy accounts for and supports around 33,000 jobs in Staffordshire, contributing around £1.87 billion to the local economy.  However, the visitor economy and wider hospitality sectors have faced challenges and opportunities in recent years. We continue to recognise the importance of this sector and supporting the visitor economy is a key part of the delivery of our overall Economic Strategy.  As part of VisitEngland’s national reform of Destination Management Organisations, in early 2023 we were invited to submit an Expression of Interest to become a Local Visitor Economy Partnership. This national programme is expected to create around 40 strategic partnerships which will work in collaboration locally, regionally and nationally on shared priorities and targets to support and grow the visitor economy and have the potential to bring significant benefits to the county, including through access to support and future funding programmes.  After receiving positive feedback on our submission, we were invited to develop a full application to which we received a positive response. Tomorrow I am involved in further discussions including with VisitEngland with a view to securing a Local Visitor Economy Partnership for the area and will hopefully be able to announce a positive outcome in the not too distant future.


It was the eighth Staffordshire Day at the start of month, with this year’s theme being sustainability and giving us all a chance to celebrate the many ways the county is doing its bit to reduce its impact on the environment. It was great to see that there were so many events that took place across the county, including a food festival at Trentham Estate, a family fun day at the National Memorial Arboretum and a plant hunter’s fair at Weston Park featuring plants from all over the world. On Staffordshire Day, We Are Staffordshire also launched its new campaign, A Place to Thrive, which highlights the county’s many assets and all the reasons why more and more people and businesses want to relocate to the county.