Are Fife’s unemployed being forgotten about?

The number of those looking for work continues to rise
The number of those looking for work continues to rise
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UNEMPLOYMENT is once again on the up across Scotland, and a closer look shows Kirkcaldy is no exception to this trend, according to the latest figures released last week.

It seems month on month, as well as year on year, the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance is rising.

The figures for February show there were a total of 3630 people in Westminster’s Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency - a rise of 173 people on the previous month.

There was also a rise recorded, this time of 105 people, on the same period from last year.

The latest numbers released by the Office for National Statistics make Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath the constituency with the 17th highest rate of unemployment in Scotland.

And of those who were claiming Job Seekers Allowance in February, 815 of them had been claiming the benefit for 12 months and over - an increase of 390 people in this position from February 2011.

Following the release of the statistics, Kirkcaldy MP Gordon Brown has called for “immediate and urgent action” to reduce unemployment.

He said: “The number of unemployed claimants in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency in February 2012 was 3620.

“This represents a rate of 8.0 per cent of the economically active population aged 16 to 64, the 138th highest of the 650 UK constituencies.”

Excluded

Mr Brown is also asking why Fife as a whole has been excluded from the list of six local authorities facing ‘particular challenges’ with youth unemployment, who are to share £9 million of Scottish Government monies to create work opportunities for young people.

He asked how priority areas set to benefit from a youth employment strategy fund could exclude an area with some of the worst unemployment black spots in Scotland.

He said: “While supporting funds for Glasgow, Renfrewshire, North and South Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, Fife’s exclusion had no justification given the severity of the cuts in jobs, the cuts in college places and the crisis facing school-leavers.

“There has been plenty of promise but I do not see the new jobs on the ground, indeed I see a cut back in provision in the areas affecting college training, there is no comprehensive strategy for young people like the New Deal of 1997 and this is what is holding job creation back.

“Fife must be included in support for young people to get skills, training and jobs and I call on the Scottish Government to make sure Fife gets its share of this funding being made available to six other local authorities.”

However, David Torrance, Kirkcaldy’s MSP said although the figures are on the rise, potential developments within the area could lead to a drop in unemployment as more jobs are created locally.

Fall

“I know it’s a very difficult period economically just now,” he said, “as you will find January and February are months which suffer a fall in people buying.

“I think that’s affected the level as well as shops cutting back in staff and businesses cutting back because of a drop in work. But there is a lot of potential in the area in the future.

“We now have the new Forth Crossing for which 841 Scottish companies have won contracts, that should help create jobs.

“Diageo has announced an expansion on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy and at Methil Energy Park we have Samsung coming with more jobs.

“I think there’s good news in the future for the Kirkcaldy area with a number of companies investing that wil be here for the long term.

“We need to try and ride this out, but once we get over the downturn things will be more positive.

“There will also be jobs created both in construction and in store if Morrisons eventually comes to Kirkcaldy.

“There’s a lot of good news stories coming and we need to focus on that and focus on bringing more investment into the area.

“If we can generate well paid jobs in manufacturing and service industries in the area it should benefit other businesses locally in the long run with people having money to spend.”