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 180 claimants, which was a lower proportional increase than seen nationally and in-line with the change seen regionally.  The total number of claimants in the county now stands at 15,300 or 2.9%. The claimant count rate in Staffordshire continues to be one of the lowest in the West Midlands and is far lower than the average for the region of 4.9%, and lower than the average for England of 3.8% of the working age population.


·       The youth claimant count in Staffordshire saw an increase of 55 claimants to a total of 2,890 young people.  The proportion of young people in Staffordshire aged 18-24 that are claiming work-related Universal Credit is 4.6%.  This is lower than the national rate of 4.8% and far lower than the regional rate of 6.6%.


·       In terms of job vacancies there was a 4% increase across Staffordshire and a 3% increase nationally between May and June. Demand for labour and skills remains high, with there currently being 1.7 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 news that Amazon have decided to leave its site in Rugeley to relocate to a much larger new facility in Sutton Coldfield. It is anticipated that the closure of the site at Rugeley will take place on a phased basis with the new site operational by October 2023.  There is the opportunity for workers to remain in employment with Amazon elsewhere, and our primary concern will of course be ensuring that we are supporting our residents who will be impacted by this decision.  We have therefore convened a taskforce comprised of senior representatives of the County Council, Borough Council, Department for Work & Pensions, South Staffordshire College and the National Careers Service to exchange information and consider our support offer, including the deployment of our Jobs & Careers Services if and when appropriate.


·       Alongside our district and borough partners and local authorities from the wider West Midlands Region, we are progressing work to consider the need for large employment sites for the logistics industry across the region.  This and our continued dialogue with the private sector emphasise the potential for this industry and its opportunities to create substantial numbers of new jobs, and we will of course continue to work proactively to ensure that these jobs are the right jobs in the right locations.


·       Our Staffordshire Jobs and Careers service continues to grow and receive referrals from residents across the county either via the website, word of mouth or via one of the many events the Employment Brokers have been attending.  This ongoing promotion of our employment and skills services continues to deliver with 11 Open Door placements secured (5 external, 4 SCC), two individuals gaining employment, 77 Staffordshire Jobs & Careers service client referrals and 37 business contacts established in June.


·       The ongoing work to develop an investment prospectus for the corridor the A50 / A500 corridor.  The details of the investment prospectus are now becoming clear and highlighting some unique strengths aligned to the decarbonisation of the corridor, including through the development and implementation of hydrogen technologies.  As connectivity improvements will also be a key part of our success in realising the opportunities along the corridor, I recently took the opportunity to mention this work to the transport secretary, Mark Harper.  Over the comings months we will be working to finalise the investment prospectus with our partners and start discussions with the relevant Government departments as to how together we can accelerate private sector investment across the corridor.


With the summer holidays and I want to take the opportunity to encourage everyone to take advantage of all of our many attractions and activities that Staffordshire has to offer.  We will again be promoting our 30 Family Days Out in Staffordshire for Under £30 campaign, with many of the activities being completely free.