18,495 more West of England people are out of work since lockdown began according to new figures released today.

There are now 31,595 people in the city aged between 16 and 64 claiming unemployment related benefits.

The news came as national labour market stats showed the number of people reporting they had been made redundant rose to a record high of 370,000 in the three months to October.

Mr Norris, who has pledged to be a “jobs first” Metro Mayor, said “Not only are these worrying figures but we must remember that behind every number is a struggling family. Many families will be facing Christmas with worry and uncertainty.

I also believe that it is not a coincidence that redundancies escalated to record levels whilst the clock was ticking down to the end of the furlough first planned by the Chancellor before his last minute U-turn. I hope he has learnt from this and call on him to clarity right now ahead of the next furlough cliff edge in January.

The UK is now is the worst recession of any major economy and West of England people are counting the cost.”

Budget lacks ambition for West of England says Labour Metro Mayor Candidate

Reacting to the Chancellor’s Budget statement, Dan Norris, Labour’s candidate for West of England metro mayor said: “What a disappointment. A budget that is truly lacking in ambition for the West of England. There was no mention of the NHS, or social care, or schools, or teachers. There was nothing on crime or restoring our area’s high streets. Meanwhile the Chancellor is freezing pay for the keyworkers who have got us through this Covid crisis. There was no major green stimulus that is vital if we are to build back better from coronavirus.”

The Budget announced Freeports in eight locations around the country but the “Great Western Freeport” based around Bristol Port failed to meet the cut.  

Mr Norris continued: “It looks like on the Freeport the invisible Conservative Metro Mayor even failed to get his point across to a Conservative government. It’s time for new leadership.”

Rural Broadband

More than four in 10 farmers still don’t have adequate fast and reliable broadband in order to run a modern-day farming business, according to a new NFU survey.
The results highlight how business growth is hampered by persistent poor connectivity and mobile coverage in rural areas.

Labour’s Dan Norris said: “My rural broadband signal drops in and out and that’s irritating. But for many farmers it is business crucial. Modern farming needs fast and reliable internet access. Fixing the urban-rural divide in digital connectivity must become a priority.”

If elected as Metro Mayor Mr Norris will commission a review into digital connectivity in the West of England, identifying areas with poor internet coverage and creating a plan for rapid broadband rollout.

Bath in top 10 “hollowed out” jobs threat

Labour analysis of Office for National Statistics figures has highlighted that Bath and North East Somerset is in the top 10 places most at risk in the country of seeing their high streets “hollowed out” due to the impact of Covid on hospitality, tourism, non-essential retail and leisure businesses.

11.7% of all businesses across England are in these sectors. But locally there is a significantly higher proportion of the businesses: 15.7%

Commenting on the analysis of the figures from the independent statistics authority, Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband stressed that while the pandemic is a national crisis “the impact will be felt much more deeply by communities in certain parts of the country”.

Metro Mayor candidate Dan Norris has called on the government to urgently confirm it will extend business rates relief to give struggling businesses the breathing room they need. He has also criticised the current Metro Mayor for the “slow and cumbersome” roll out of his high street fund.

Mr Miliband said: “The government must stand up for local high streets and abandon the sink or swim approach. Standing by and letting these businesses collapse with the vaccine rollout making huge progress and recovery in sight would be absolutely devastating for business owners and employees who have done the right thing by shutting to help tackle the virus.”

“Missing” students could decimate Bristol and Bath’s future funding

Students who are at holiday addresses rather than term term addresses due to the Covid lockdown will skew census data, warned Metro Mayor candidate Dan Norris today.

This could lead to Bath and Bristol missing out on vital funding. 

The Census is due to take place on Sunday 21 March but many of the 60,000 University of Bath, Bristol, UWE and Bath Spa undergraduates will not be in the two cities to be counted. 

The census provides information that government uses to develop policies, plan and run public services. Crucially the count of the population on 21 March helps the Government to calculate the size of grants it allocates local authorities and health authorities. 

Mr Norris said: “The aim of the census is to give us a complete picture of the nation every ten years but 2021 is an extraordinary year. Missing students will see our local population undercounted and that could have knock on effects for years to come.”

Mr Norris has written to the Secretary of State for local government urging him to carry out a full assessment of the impact of the pandemic in changing where people are temporarily resident and calling for a guarantee that Bristol and Bath will not lose out on future funding due to a census undercount.

Tory Metro Mayor failing on apprenticeships

“Must do better”: that is the message from Labour Metro Mayor candidate Dan Norris as he slammed the Conservative West of England Metro Mayor for failing on apprenticeships. 

Latest figures show that during the current Metro Mayor’s term of office the number of new apprenticeships in the West of England has plummeted. There are 1630 fewer in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset than when the Tory Mayor came to power. 

The Metro Mayor is responsible for apprenticeship cash and policy but around 65% of small businesses across the West of England have never used apprentices. 

Dan Norris said “Apprenticeship opportunities in the West of England are at their lowest level in 5 years. That’s not good enough. The Metro Mayor is failing to create the opportunities young people across our area need. Investing in training opportunities will be central to rebuilding our economy after the pandemic. If elected I pledge to be a ‘jobs first’ Mayor and ensure our young people are not left behind.”