WHEN Mr David Lowe left his home town near St Helen’s, with his wife, to be closer to her family in Burnley he planned a new start and a new life.
But, six months on and 100 job applications later the 47-year-old has been unable to find work, despite completing seven forms a week, regular trips to the Jobcentre, employment workshops and years of experience.
His story, however, is far from unique.
Figures for Burnley Council’s Economy Scrutiny Committee show the number of jobseekers’ allowance claimants has increased from 2,173 in November 2010 to 2,423 in April. Over the same period the JSA rate rose from 4.0% to 4.5%, slightly above the North-West average and significantly higher than the UK average of 3.7%.
Mr Lowe, of Girvan Grove, Burnley, was made redundant from his job at a photo booth company in July 2009.
He then managed to get a position at a Warrington pharmaceutical firm where he had previously worked but the wage was £70 a week less than what he had been earning and he, with wife Tracy (50), took the decision to move to Burnley.
Now he says he has questioned the timing of their move. Mrs Lowe works part-time in Oddies bakery at Pike Hill but her husband has been less fortunate and they are struggling to make ends meet.
“Job-wise it’s been a nightmare. I’ve got two interviews this week so I hope something will come of them. I’m applying for anything at the moment. It’s demoralising because you apply for a job or send an email but they don’t get back to you. If you go for an interview and you don’t get it, they don’t let you know.”
Latest statistics suggest 9,980 working age residents, out of a total estimated working age population of 54,200 in Burnley, are claiming income-related benefits.
In April 2011 there were 594 vacancies notified to Burnley Jobcentre Plus and 375 unfilled vacancies for 2,423 jobseekers’ allowance claimants.
The Express recently revealed how up to 350 jobs are at risk at cleaning products manufacturers McBride’s.
Mr Lowe said he can sympathise with workers there and their families. He said: “My heart goes out to the people of McBride’s whose jobs are under threat. I hope the council bend over backwards to find a way to secure these jobs.”
Over recent weeks Jobcentre Plus have been working with Remploy in Burnley where 18 posts were made redundant and in the coming months will be working with Home Loan Management Ltd who are closing their Padiham site. More than 100 workers will be made redundant from the beginning of August to the end of September with a further 158 transferred to the company’s head office in Skipton.
Job Centre Plus are also working with Gardner Aerospace where the company is moving its production to two other sites in the UK, affecting more than 100 staff from September to March next year.
Fortunately, it is not all bad news with some businesses choosing to expand or move to Burnley.
Between April and June Burnley Council’s business development team has helped with the relocation and expansion of three companies. Fleming Howland, a high quality furniture manufacturer has relocated from Oswaldtwistle to a new unit on the Network 65 Business Park. Elektronics Europe, who specialise in electronic control systems for heating and refrigeration, have relocated to the Empire Business Park and Alert Fire & Security have completed the expansion of their site in Wiseman Street in the Weavers’ Triangle.
Despite getting frustrated at his lack of success on the job front, Mr Lowe remains upbeat about the future.
“Hopefully something will come from these interviews,” he said.
There’s more on this story in Friday’s Express