Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unemployment in Yardley & the economy

Despite a poor outlook across the rest of the city, Yardley constituency saw a welcome slight month on month drop in unemployment - 113 people have stopped claiming Job Seekers Allowance, a percentage drop of 0.6%. I wonder whether this has anything to do with the imminent opening of the Tesco store at the Swan (Monday 20th)? Year on year, the figures continue to rise - up 2.4% on January 2011.

Women are being particularly badly hit, as claimant numbers have climbed by 7.1% since January 2011, while men have remained broadly static with a 0.1% increase - although that means that 10% of the men in Yardley are claiming JSA.

Yesterday we saw the government's hike in VAT work itself out of the inflation figures, but that still remains high and is outstripping wage increases, meaning that your wages are worth less than they were. One of the credit agencies has put the UK government on notice that our treasured AAA rating is now at risk and George Osborne claims - with a straight face - that this is a vindication of his economic policies. Just as he claimed that when the agencies took the UK off-risk, it was a vindication of his policies. This is, of course, a political issue rather than a practical fiscal one - neither the US nor France have seen rises in the cost of borrowing as a result of losing their AAA ratings and there is no reason to think that the UK would be any different.
Even if we can't find the money for tax cuts from public spending savings, we could add it to the deficit and it is not going to send the markets into a tizzy, I don't think anyone really believes that. The markets will not go haywire if there was a modest loosening in borrowing in the short run if it was for the right reason.

It is becoming increasingly clear that we have been on the wrong track for two years with this government. Growth is the single most important element of reducing the deficit and closing the gap between government income and spending. Osborne's blind faith in austerity will lead us into the same spiral that has afflicted Ireland. It doesn't work and ordinary people end up as the collateral damage in a policy that has failed and was always likely to fail.
That's a Tory MP, by the way, David Ruffley.

Planning Applications to 11 February 2012

2012/00822/PA - 909-911 Warwick Road, Acocks Green
Change of use from public house (Use Class A4) to car sales business (Use Class Sui Generis)
A4 is "drinking establishments". "Sui Generis" are uses that fall outside any other class of usage and stand on their own. This again relates to the old 'Britannia' pub opposite Stockfield Road.

2012/00667/PA - National Express West Midlands bus garage, Fox Hollies Road
Installation of solar panels to bus depot roof
Solar panel installations don't usually require planning permission for domestic properties, but they always do for commercial buildings. This is quite a hefty installation - 200 panels totalling 49 kW and taking full advantage of the Feed in tariff scheme.