Category Archives: Unemployment

Council warned over casino plans.

Rank's Grosvenor division already has 35 casinos but hopes to extend this by adding a large casino in Leeds aswell as the 24 outlets owned by debt-laden rival Gala Coral. Photo:©knowyourleeds

As expectation grows that Leeds will be the only major city to grant a large casino licence after a series of council meetings, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the NHS has warned the council about putting economical gain above resident’s welfare.

Leeds City Council said casinos will bring a “major boost to the leisure, visitor and night-time economies” after the licensing policy was passed through the Executive Board and Scrutiny process.

Large casinos are defined as having a minimum area of 1,000 square meters and up to 150 slot machines with a maximum jackpot of £4,000.

CAB’s response to the licensing consultation said “problem gambling” is highest where casinos are generally built in areas of high deprivation and unemployed with severe money problems.

They highlighted that 16-24 year-olds and people with serious health problems are most at risk. Referring to this government report in 2010, they said: “0.9% of the population in Britain can be defined as problem gamblers, suggesting that in Leeds there may be around 7,000 people who are already problem gamblers.

“If the development of a large casino in Leeds results in an increase in problem gambling of only 0.1% that would mean an additional 800 people becoming problem gamblers with the likely corresponding money problems described above.”

A spokesman for LCC working on the project said in a “post recession environment” casinos could prove a key catalyst in stimulating economic growth.

“Early economic impact assessments estimated that a large casino in Leeds could generate up to 620 new jobs and potential capital expenditure of £25million,” said the spokesperson in a written response to questions knowyourleeds had to send in writing.

“We don’t wish to speculate as to how many applications it may receive, other than to state that, as Leeds is the only core city with powers to grant a licence, it’s anticipating interest from the casino industry.”

Rank Group PLC unsuccessfully challenged the councils right not to award a casino licence if they receive more than more than one application which falls short of their set criteria. Rank – who confirmed today that they’re in talks about taking over Gala Coral –  run 37 casinos across the UK (included 2 casinos in Belgium), generating £238.6m in revenue, under the Grosvenor brand.

Nationwide ‘large casinos’ was given the go-ahead in 2007 in controversial decision by the then Labour government.

The council receives £15,000 a year in fees from the five casino licences in operation across the city. Large licences are worth £10,000 a year for each awarded.

NHS Leeds said the policy doesn’t acknowledge potential negative impacts which a large casino could have. In their response to the consultation, they said:

“People living in areas of deprivation are disproportionately affected by higher levels of income deprivation, employment deprivation, higher rates of ill-health and disability, lower rates of education, skills and training, lack of social housing, high levels of crime and poor living environments.

“Individuals living in areas of deprivation are at much greater risk of negative impacts associated with gambling. Low income is one of the most consistent factors associated with problem gambling worldwide.”

When asked how much the council has spent on the application process, they were unable to provide figures due to “commercially sensitivity”.

“Moneys spent as part of  the process are expected to be significantly outweighed by the financial contributions which may be received,” LCC said.

You can see the responses in the post-consultation report below.

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Deadline day for firefighters across Leeds.

Fire services could be amalgamated © 2010 - 2011 West Yorkshire Fire And Rescue Service

Firefighters will find out later today if proposed cuts will lead to jobs losses and station closures across West Yorkshire. Up to 135 firefighters jobs could go and 10 fire stations face closure.

The results from the consultation period, which outlined the proposals to save money across the fire services, ended last week after a three-month period. The findings are expected to be reported back to West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority later today.

David Williams, a Gipton based Fire Brigade Union rep with 14 years firefighting experience, said: “Unfortunately I’m expecting the Fire Authority to agree to close 10 perfectly good stations and build 5 new ones.

“They will agree to remove 7 fully operational fire engines and reduce the operational firefighting staff. Fewer firefighters doing the same or even more incidents results in a poorer service for all.”

Included in the plans is a provision to build new a fire station to replacing existing ones. The authorities believe the cost of building a new station in east Leeds which will cover both Gipton and Stanks – rather than them having separate stations – will be off-set by selling the existing fire stations. 

David believes cuts should elsewhere, not to frontline staff.

However, while David Williams hopes that won’t happen, the proposal said it’s due to the success of the fire services (in reducing the risk of serious fire and incidents) which justify these new measures.

The proposal states: “It’s entirely appropriate that the general reduction of risk and demand is taken account of when determining the level of resources required.”

You can see the business plan in full here:

Over the next four years, the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has to find savings of £18 million after its budget was slashed by 25% in government funding. This comes on the back of a series of cuts to the service in recent years.

Community activists plan to fight the proposals. They are incredulous at the data used by the fire authorities to present the case. The COVEN group released a counter report which questions the authorities findings. In a highly critical report, COVEN said:

“Reducing the front line services you provide and lowering the number of ‘coal face’ firefighters is wrong. Had you laid out in your business case some indication of other savings you were to make, ie reductions in revenue funding at senior management level, we may have been more sympathetic.”

Questions will also be asked about how money has been spent in recent years by the fire services. The Fire Brigades Union said £2 million has gone to Bramley fire station, £130,000 on a malfunctioning lift at the fire authority’s HQ and up to a £1 million has gone towards an empty building in Wakefield.

In 2009, recruitment was suspended in anticipation that funding would be reduced. In the meantime there’s been a Young Fire-fighters Scheme to help young local people understand what firefighters do and how they can get into the service. Despite positive feedback from all sectors, not one person has been recruited into the fire service.

“We won’t be recruiting for another five years and that’s a massive concern. You can’t buy experience and that’s vital in a service such as ours,” said David.

Interview requests from the council and fire authorities have not been returned.

What do you think? Should fire services be cut or are the measures fair given the current climate? Have your say below.

You can read COVEN’s counter report below.


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Leeds’ Youth Debt

Unemployment rates at a 17 high while youth unemployment is at the highest since records began. Photo:©knowyourleeds

There was a sobering moment last week for us all. Government figures revealed that over a million young people are out of work, education or training.

Speaking in Leeds last week, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that £1 billion of taxpayers’ money will be given to employers in a bid to drive down the spiraling jobless numbers among the young.

The government said employers will be given £2,275 for each worker they take on in the next three years, meaning they’ll effectively be subsidising work and training placement schemes.

With the country in the middle of a what could turn out to be a decade long slump, employers can afford to be picky and choose from those with the most experience.

It’s not just ‘neets’ (not in education, employment, or training) to use the political parlance, who find themselves in an ever-increasing competitive job market. They also have to compete with the more experience job seekers as people from all sectors across country are vying for scarce jobs with companies continuing to make redundancies and tighten their belts.

Leeds West MP and shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, told knowyourleeds that the scale of the problem isn’t as simple as giving people jobs.

“I think that the outlook is probably the toughest outlook that young people are faced with,” she said.

“Whether they’re leaving school, college or university in the last few years, 22% of young people are out of work. In the constituency that I represent, Leeds West, the numbers are much higher than that. Long term youth unemployment has gone up by around 80% since the start of the year. That’s the scale of the problem.”

In Leeds city center, jobseekers knowyourleeds spoke to said the main problem was that employers aren’t hiring them because they lack one vital attribute on their CV: experience.

You can here what jobseekers had to say in the Audioboo below.

Employers aren’t hiring because they want people who have worked before. Businesses aren’t to blame. But is the government right and are these proposal right for Leeds’ young people?

As an economist before she became Leeds’ only female MP in last years election, Rachel Reeves said that people with high qualifications are taking jobs that would’ve traditionally have gone to people fresh out of school.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves studied at the London School of Economics. Photo: ©rachelreeves.net

A mixture of graduates, school and college leavers in the job market with their more experienced elders has created a “crazy” situation she said.

“Everyone is applying for the same jobs, irrespective of their qualifications,” she said.

“This year was the best for GCSE and ‘A’ Level results. Yet youth unemployment has not been higher for 20 years.”

Rachel Reeves unsurprisingly believes the priority should be to make sure that young people leaving school and college get an opportunity to contribute and put something back in the economy.

“It just seems a huge waste, a criminal waste really, of the talents and skills of young people who we’re not harnessing and that we’re letting them languish on benefits. They could be contributing, paying taxes and making a difference, especially at the start of their working lives when it so important to get into the habit and learn those skills of work.”

 

What do you think? Are businesses to blame? Should the government be doing more for entrepreneurs?

Have your say in the comments section or as usual tweet @knowyourleeds



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