This week’s announcement on falling unemployment is a further sign that our economy is on the up.
More people in work and fewer people on benefits is good news for business, local people and government balance sheets too.
From a local perspective we should be pleased that while Blackpool still has a higher rate of people out of work than the regional and national averages, that gap is decreasing.
Employers will no doubt have been encouraged with the introduction of the National Insurance Contributions Allowance, which means that from April this year all employers are taken out of paying the first £2,000 of National Insurance for their employees, a move which the FSB campaigned for and is pleased that the Government has taken forward.
This is likely to be encouraging self-employed people and micro businesses to consider taking on their first employee or an additional employee respectively, encouraging new vacancies to be advertised and helping to create new opportunities for people out of work.
We remain concerned however that employers can no longer reclaim the costs of paying out Statutory Sick Pay, so in some cases what is given with one hand will be taken back, at least in part, with the other. Employers will need to get their head around these changes and ensure that sickness management policies are in place and be aware that the right to request flexible working may also have relevance in the area of productivity and attendance at work.
Government needs to make it easier for small firms to grow and with it create new jobs for local people. While we at the FSB continue to push for these sorts of growth-friendly policies, let us at least be pleased that the trends continue to show signs for optimism.