Peterborough Performing Well Despite Record Jobless Totals

pb_logo07:20 Thursday 21st March 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Unemployment has reached a record high in Peterborough, 5.6%, well above the national average. That’s according to the latest figure from the Office of National Statistics, which show that nearly 400 more people were receiving JobSeekers’ Allowance in February than in January. Meanwhile in Cambridgeshire only 2.2% of the workforce are receiving the benefit. Well let’s speak to John Bridge, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce. Morning John.
JOHN BRIDGE: Yes good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: This is very high, isn’t it?
JOHN BRIDGE: It is, and it is always disappointing when we see the level of JobSeeker Allowance people going up.
PAUL STAINTON: Why so much higher in Peterborough than elsewhere across Cambridgeshire?
JOHN BRIDGE: Well, the thing is that what we have to do is I think take it in its rightful perspective. There are a number of factors in relation to it. One, we find it very difficult to understand the composition of the figure, and exactly how they are made up, and the type of people that are actually increasing those numbers as they are. And it’s almost impossible to find that analysis. But the one thing we do know is that the economy in Peterborough is performing well, although it does have quite a lot of jobs of a cyclical nature. And whilst we see at the end of a calendar year many jobs created for people, which is very positive, we also know that those jobs are not then available in the early part of the following year, and we do see that they do disappear for a period of time.
PAUL STAINTON: So because Peterborough intrinsically and historically to some extent has got a larger proportion of lower skilled jobs than say Cambridge, that’s the reason, you’re saying.
JOHN BRIDGE: It is. And it’s the nature of the jobs which are affected by the timing of when the people are required. But I think what we have to understand is the economy is performing in Peterborough extremely well, as it is in all the rest of Cambridgeshire.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we’re not attracting high quality jobs, from what you’re just saying.
JOHN BRIDGE: There is a lot going on, and what we forget is there are high quality jobs coming in as well, and we have very good performing companies, people like BGL, who are growing and creating high quality jobs. And we do have in the pipeline I know various companies who are coming in that will be bringing a different type of job to the city. And all of these things take time, but what we have to remember is in the last twelve months, the statistics show us that we actually created an additional 3,500 net jobs in Peterborough, which to me is a very positive sign of the economy performing extremely well, and being very attractive, not only to existing businesses to grow their businesses, but to investors coming in.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. But on the down side, I don’t want to keep being negative, but these are bad figures.
JOHN BRIDGE: They are bad figures.
PAUL STAINTON: They don’t take into account the joblosses that have been announced recently, Thomas Cook, Mars Petfoods and others.
JOHN BRIDGE: No, indeed. But I think they key thing is that at the same time I know that jobs are being created, and it’s the net balance that we have to look at. And I’m very hopeful that clearly we’ll be able to make some inroads into those figures. And I think if you would look and remember if we talked as we did this time last year about the figures, we had exactly the same situation. But positive things happen during the year, and clearly we’re able to look at it over a twelve month period, I think we will find that the economy and all of these factors are indeed positive, and it’s not something that in one month we should be really concerned that we have any problems or difficulties, and it’s not a situation which we are not dealing with and can cope with very well.
PAUL STAINTON: But we’re so far out of line with the national average, 3.9% of people, Cambridgeshire, 2.2%, Cambridge, 1.9% then Peterborough, 5.6%, out of work.
JOHN BRIDGE: Yes indeed. And clearly these statistics are historical, and we would like to try and clearly be able to deal with it. But as I said earlier, it’s the composition of it, and how we have obviously clearly significant numbers of migrants coming in, many of whom are very essential to the businesses of Peterborough. But what we don’t have is the detailed analysis to understand the composition of our unemployed, and particularly the numbers that have increased in the last month.
PAUL STAINTON: John, thank you for that. John Bridge, the Chief Executrive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce.