Update: Jobless total soars in Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 18:22 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:15 26 October 2009

Chamber of Commerce chairman Tim Hutchings

Chamber of Commerce chairman Tim Hutchings

THE number of people signing on in Welwyn Hatfield has rocketed by 36 per cent since October. The gloomy figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, show the number of people claiming Jobseeker s Allowance in the borough has risen from 1,013

THE number of people signing on in Welwyn Hatfield has rocketed by 36 per cent since October.

The gloomy figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, show the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in the borough has risen from 1,013 in October to 1,374 in January.

The statistics also show the number of people signing on has increased each month for the past seven months.

Tim Hutchings, chief executive of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, described the data as "concerning" and placed the blame for the economic downturn firmly at the door of the financial services industry.

He said: "The real recession is within the financial sector which has been poorly run, poorly managed and very badly regulated and, as a result, the vast majority of businesses that are well run are suffering the consequences."

Mr Hutchings confirmed the Hatfield-based chamber has been "getting information" that some businesses are laying people off.

However, he stressed: "We are saying to businesses think twice before you make people redundant because you might end up losing a range of skills you cannot easily replace in the future."

Marie Atkinson, Hertfordshire spokeswoman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "We are very concerned at the way in which the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in the Welwyn Hatfield area has climbed sharply after an apparent recovery in 2007-8.

"The number of enquiries to the FSB members' legal helpline have shot up, many of them asking for help putting into effect redundancies, either planned or potential."

But she added: "In Hertfordshire we must draw comfort from the fact our Jobseeker figures are still better than average for the UK, and encourage businesses to seek sound advice about their legal issues and business planning wherever possible.

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