Jobless figures soar as credit crunch hits

PUBLISHED: 14:49 27 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

SHOCK figures reveal that the St Albans district is already being hit by the global credit crunch with high fliers in the City making up a high proportion of a big increase in the number of jobless. There has been a 38 per cent rise in the number of peopl

SHOCK figures reveal that the St Albans district is already being hit by the global credit crunch with high fliers in the City making up a high proportion of a big increase in the number of jobless.

There has been a 38 per cent rise in the number of people out of work in the district and most of the new benefits claimants formerly worked for financial institutions in the City of London which has been hardest hit by the financial meltdown. In a report going before St Albans District Council's Cabinet on Tuesday, the city's Job Centre manager identifies those signing on as being former commuters and being mainly in the 35-plus age bracket with higher-level, "knowledge-based" skills.

Most of them have been in the same field for more than 10 years but are now having to cast their net wider - even globally - for work.

Cllr Melvyn Teare, whose portfolio includes economic development, said the council had been examining various methods designed to alleviate the worst effects of the economic downturn.

He said: "We are hoping to set up an Executive Job Club at St Albans Job Centre very soon to support these professionals thrown out of work."

Executive Job Clubs offer central meeting points for people to support each other and access market-place information. They can also help with research and investigating methods of self-employment.

The council is also going to use a quarter of a £400,000 business incentive Government grant to pay the salary for three years of Maria Cutler, the regeneration and economic sustainability officer, who will be seeking ways to offset the downturn.

The council itself is already feeling the pinch in terms of revenue lost from land search fees and planning applications as a result of the downturn in the property market.

Cllr Chris Oxley, whose portfolio includes staffing levels at the council, said: "There is considerable evidence of cuts in spending by local residents which is clearly impacted by reductions in employment of high fliers in the City."

"This can be seen with a major reduction of land search charges which is affecting the council's income and the reduction of planning applications which have historically generated significant income."

It is believed the budget due to go before Cabinet next week will reflect projected shortfalls in income provoking debate on ways and means to balance the books.

Cllr Teare met recently with a cross-section of major employers within the district to discuss how the credit crunch has affected their business.

He said he was told the situation was changing so fast day to day that it was impossible to predict the way forward but most of them felt they could weather the storm

But as more than half of the district's workers commuted elsewhere to work, the knock-on effect of this level of unemployment would obviously affect the retail sector particularly hard.

Cabinet members will also be looking at transport and car-parking problems and at using its role as a major purchaser of goods and services to benefit the local economy.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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