Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones has today welcomed today’s publication of the latest Labour Market Statistics which show that Wales has seen the largest increase in the employment rate across the UK over the last three months.
The latest figures from the Office for National statistics show that the employment level in Wales increased by 40,000 over the last quarter to 1.377 million, with the employment rate increasing by 1.6 per cent - the largest rise among all devolved countries and English regions.
Unemployment in Wales has fallen by 7,000 over the last quarter and while the claimant count increased slightly, the rate remained unchanged at 5.5 per cent.
Welcoming the latest statistics, Mr Jones said:
“ Today’s figures demonstrate that the private sector is beginning to strengthen, and that businesses in Wales are making great strides on the road to recovery.
“During my first month as Secretary of State, I have taken every opportunity to meet with representatives of businesses large and small from across the length and breadth of the country. Business leaders are telling me that they have renewed confidence and, although the situation remains tricky, are on the whole encouraged by the positive signs in the economy.
“However, we cannot rest on our laurels. The fall in youth claimant count is encouraging, but youth unemployment remains stubbornly high. This simply underlines the importance for all levels of Government to work together to foster the right environment for businesses to invest and grow.
“As a government, we are continuing to put the grass root mechanisms in place to help cultivate this environment. We are making taxation fair and competitive and stripping away unnecessary red tape which small businesses have told us is holding them back from creating new jobs.
“The Prime Minister has also announced today that more jobseekers will be able to access help to set up their own business under the New Enterprise Allowance scheme. The scheme, which provides expert coaching and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs will be extended and made easier. People will now have instant access to support when they claim Jobseekers Allowance, ending the six month long wait people have to currently spend on benefits before they qualify for start-up money. Since its roll out in Wales in June 2011, 790 people have been teamed up with a mentor 490 people have benefitted from the financial support. ”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The ILO (International Labour Organisation) unemployment is a count of those who are out of work and want a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks; plus those who are out of work, have found a job and area waiting to start in the next two week
- Today’s announcement on the extension of the New Enterprise Allowance means an extra 33,000 places are being made available on the mentoring element of the scheme. This will ensure that we create up to 40,000 new businesses through the New Enterprise Allowance by end of 2013.
Currently, people have to wait 13 weeks before they are eligible for referral to the mentoring phase of the New Enterprise Allowance - access to the financial support available under the scheme is at 26-weeks. Today’s announcement means that jobseekers will be able to access both the mentoring and financial support from day one of their JSA claim. In addition, the deadline for new referrals has been extended from March 2013 to December 2013, which will ensure that the commitment to create up to 40,000 new businesses will be met.
- To be eligible to receive financial support, the claimant has to demonstrate that their business idea is viable. The financial support consists of a weekly allowance payable over 26 weeks’ worth up to £1,274. If they need start-up capital they may also apply for an unsecured loan of up to £1,000 to help them with start-up costs, such as buying their initial equipment. Participants can only access the NEA allowance and loan when they have a business plan which has been approved by the mentoring partnership. In addition, to qualify for the support they must close their claim to JSA and provide evidence that they have commenced trading.