The number of working age people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance has fallen in Staffordshire by 45 per cent in 2014.
Every district in the county has seen annual falls of between 32 per cent (South Staffordshire) and 66 per cent (Tamworth).
The annual figure was released alongside news that the county-wide JSA claimant rate for December had fallen to 0.9 per cent from 1.0 per cent the month before.
The news emerged on the day that Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet heard that a support hub for small businesses in the county will have made a difference to around 1,500 companies since it was set up in April last year, with up to 200 jobs created in two years.
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Economy, Environment and Infrastructure, said: “The fantastic fall in the number of JSA claimants in 2014 shows the council is succeeding in creating the conditions for businesses big and small to thrive and create good quality jobs for Staffordshire people.”
Earlier Councillor Winnington told colleagues that a support hub for small businesses in Staffordshire will have made a difference to around 1,500 companies since it was set up in April last year. The funding initiatives will create in the region of 200 jobs in two years.
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub provides advice and direct business support to small and medium-sized companies. Support and advice is available through the area’s business helpline or face to face by a member of the Growth Hub team. Direct support is available through the hub’s grant scheme, a private investment initiative and programme for start-up businesses.
The hub’s Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) has invested £250,000 in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent companies. Its second finance initiative, the High Growth Investment Programme (HGIP), aims to support businesses capable of achieving rapid growth. In addition, it aims to embed early-stage equity finance in the local enterprise partnership area and attract more private investment into local businesses. Nearly £320,000 has been invested so far.
Newcastle-based Kamm Design Ltd is one company which has benefited from the HGIP. It develops advanced, tailor-made bikes for triathletes. Martin Meir, managing director, said: “We want to be able to provide a highly innovative product that enables us to fulfil the demands of the growing triathlon market. The funding we have secured through the High Growth Investment Programme will now enable us to further develop a ground-breaking product and put the area on the map as a provider of excellence in this sector.”
The hub is a local enterprise partnership project which is led by Staffordshire County Council and has been funded in its first year as part of the City Deal. It is one of 15 pilot schemes across the country. The county council’s cabinet was told that the hub looks set to exceed its target to engage with 1,300 businesses in 2014/15.
Advice topics have included what type of financial support is available, specialist support such as start-up and export guidance or how to move premises. Growth Hub advisors coordinate appropriate support which can be delivered by a wide range of organisations.
Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader Mark Winnington said: “Backing our small businesses is vital as they play an essential part in the county’s long-term economic growth and create thousands of jobs.
“The Growth Hub has done a fantastic job since it was set up in April and is on track to exceed its target for business engagement already. Small businesses face a range of challenges and the hub is making a real difference in helping them to overcome them – whether this is through advice, signposting them to the appropriate organisation or directly through the grants scheme or private investment initiative.
“The aim of the LEP is to support business and job creation and the county council plays an integral part in this. I’m pleased to report the success of the Growth Hub today.”
The Growth Hub uses the existing single point of contact for business advice – the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002. Funding for hub activities nationally is provided from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, under grant contract with Lancaster University.
You can join get involved in Staffordshire – Right For Business which the LinkedIn hub in Staffordshire for sharing opportunities, case studies and support to make it easy for businesses to start up, innovate and expand here in Staffordshire.