‘Austerity measures’ blamed for Blaenau Gwent jobless
5:03pm Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
NEW figures showed that a Gwent council area had the third highest rate of unemployment in Great Britain and the highest in Wales.
A total of 4,000 people were said to be out of work in Blaenau Gwent between October 2011 and September 2012.
The figure amounts to 14.8 per cent of the population – a rate that is higher than Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff.
The news comes as quarterly statistics on unemployment show a rise across Wales.
Torfaen had the fourth highest in Wales at 10.8 per cent, with 5,000 people unemployed.
Monmouthshire had the second lowest rate in Wales at 5.5 per cent with only 2,000 people out of work, beaten only by Powys.
Caerphilly and Newport both had an unemployment rate of 9.8 per cent – with 8,000 people and 7,000 out of work in the two areas, respectively.
Labour’s Blaenau Gwent council leader Hedley McCarthy said the figures came as no surprise.
He said: “The socio-economic problems impact on everything we do, and they are being exacerbated by the Tory-Lib Dem government’s austerity measures.”
Gwent PlaidAMJocelyn Davies AM said the Welsh Government needed to bring forward investment in infrastructure.
“It is worth remembering that whether during a recession or in times of growth, areas like Blaenau Gwent are left to lag behind,” she said.
But Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies said the Welsh Government did not have the economic levers the UK government does.
He added: “These figures are depressing but when you have a Tory-led Westminster government with no viable back-to-work scheme and no plan B for the economy it is no surprise.”
However UK government employment minister Mark Hoban claimed 15,000 jobseekers have been helped to set up their own business across the UK under the New Enterprise Allowance scheme.
Across Wales the number of people unemployment rose by 6,000 to 127,000 during the last three months of 2012.
But unemployment the UK as a whole fell by 14,000.
Welsh secretary David Jones said the statistics “are clearly disappointing for Wales”.
Tory AM Nick Ramsay said the figures demonstrate the fragile nature of Wales’ economic recovery, while the Lib Dem Eluned Parrott AM said they showed the work the Welsh Government still has to do.