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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 218

Date:- 11 September 2005

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Incapacity benefit numbers boosted by job shortages in Merseyside

AREAS in Merseyside have some of the highest percentages of working age people claiming incapacity benefit in the UK, according to a new report. Liverpool, St. Helen’s and Knowsley all have high numbers of people claiming incapacity benefit according to the report, published by Catalyst. The report also argues that Government efforts to decrease this number by reforming incapacity benefits are likely to have little impact unless new jobs are created in the region.

15.7% of the working age population in Knowlsey is claiming incapacity benefit, which is 5th highest in the UK. LiverpooI is 7th highest with 15.4% and St. Helen’s is 16th with 12.7%. This compares to Hart in Hampshire, where just 1.8% of the working age population is claiming incapacity benefit.

The authors of the report, Professor Steve Fothergill of Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Economic and Social Research and Cambridge University’s John Grieve, claim that these high numbers are due to a failure to reverse the decline of the UK’s manufacturing regions, such as these parts of Scotland, where there is still a serious shortage of jobs. Government plans to restrict benefits and require claimants to attend work-related interviews are expected to cause controversy and possible backbench rebellions in the new parliamentary session.

The report, Mobilising Britain’s Missing Workforce:- Unemployment, incapacity benefit and the regions, says that the problems of incapacity benefit claims and regional regeneration are “two sides of the same coin”.

The report shows that “hidden unemployment” in disadvantaged areas accounts for around 1.1 million incapacity benefit recipients, that’s around 4 in 10 of all claims, who would be in paid work if full employment truly existed in across the country. The report is critical of the government’s reliance on “supply side” labour market measures and devolution to Regional Development Agencies, arguing that these deep imbalances can only be addressed by proactive policies that channel investment to disadvantaged regions. It warns that the problem may be exacerbated by new EU rules that will reduce European funds available to UK regions at the same time as restricting the government’s own investment incentives.

In response the authors outline a “7-point strategy” for “mobilising Britain’s missing workforce”, making full use of the available resources and options and targeting them to maximise benefits to areas of low employment. John Grieve Smith, report co-author, said:- “The problem of regional unemployment will not be solved by giving Regional Development Agencies their heads and leaving them to get on with it. This may merely widen present disparities. The government must adopt a policy of discriminating more actively in favour of the weaker areas, both in giving incentives, and in public expenditure on infrastructure and the location of public sector institutions.”


COMMUNITY Project Seeks To Bring Young and Old Together. Employees at Co-op Travel in Liverpool are calling on young and old to help build bridges within the community. Co-op Travel plans to launch its ‘Bridging The Age Gap’ project in September and is keen to hear from schools and community groups interested in taking part.

The campaign seeks to help young and old to better understand each other through initiatives designed to promote awareness of each other’s experiences and attitudes. Co-op Travel hopes that the initiative will promote greater community spirit and help youngsters understand more about local history and what factors have influenced Liverpool as it is today.

“We’ve created an educational pack full of ideas on how children can explore the past by talking to older members of the community.

The pack is ideal for schools, especially key stages 2 and 3, and we’re keen to hear from any community groups - young and old - who would be interested in lending their support. As a community retailer with strong ties in Liverpool, Co-op Travel is keen to support ideas that will promote understanding and co-operation within the town. We believe there are valuable lessons that both age groups can learn by coming together to share experiences.”  explains Sue Jones, regional manager of Co-op Travel in Liverpool.

The pack contains ideas for how youngsters can learn valuable lessons from Liverpool’s past. For example, the campaign looks at ways to tackle obesity in children by learning from the diets and leisure pursuits that older members of the community remember from their youth.

To register their interest community groups can contact Katherine Busby on 0161 60 60 274 or email:-


A GIANT banana will be touring the North West in an eye-catching bid to encourage local people to play their part in shaping the National Health Service.
The bright yellow fruit, together with an indian head massager, face painter and blood pressures nurses, are aimed to highlight the message that local people can make a difference to their community.

You can find us at:-

Monday 19 September:- Arndale Shopping Centre, Manchester
Tuesday 20 September:- Salford Shopping City, Salford
Wednesday 21 September:- St Georges Shopping Centre, Preston
Thursday 22 September:- The Lanes Shopping Centre, Carlisle
Friday 23 September:- St John’s Shopping Centre, Liverpool

We’ll also be at Mersey Way Shopping Centre, Stockport all week too! There will be fun activities, giveaways, and also a fantastic prize draw which includes DVD players and free leisure passes. These efforts are part of a week long ‘Shaping Health’ campaign that sees over 800 volunteers taking to the streets and showcasing their work.

Each NHS trust and primary care trust in England has a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forum. Local residents can join these PPI Forums to have their say on decisions about health and health services. They are made up of local people, watching over the quality of healthcare and shaping decisions which impact on the local community.

The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement, which has responsibility for ensuring the NHS takes proper account of the views of patients and the public, is now recruiting more volunteers to join their local PPI Forums.

To find out more, call 0845 120 7111 or log on to  for an application pack.

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