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UK jobless rate falls by 59,000

Photo Credit: Ernestoeslava

BREAKING NEWS – The jobless rate in the UK has fallen by 59,000 in the past two years.

However overall employment throughout the UK has also decreased. The previous quarter saw 14,000 less jobs.

Unemployment has dropped by 0.05% within the past year down to 4.3%, marking a 42-year low.

Earnings by workers are beginning to catch up to inflation, rising 2.2%, yet it are still behind by 3%.

According to Bloomberg Brexit, here is the latest change in the GBP.


How Can Both Unemployment and Employment Fall Simultaneously?

While confusing at first, this is the result of more people dropping out of the workforce all together. Those who drop out of the workforce are viewed as being economically inactive, which rose in the last quarter.

They may have become economically inactive for one reason or another, such as those being primary care givers for family members or trading work for the classroom.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 151,000 people have become economically inactive in the last quarter.

Fundraising appeal to save Leith community centre #backdrbells

At the launch of the fundraising appeal to #backdrbells

Dr. Bell’s Family Centre launches an appeal to raise £25,000 by April 2017, following a 50% reduction in external funding last year.

Speaking at the launch on Monday, January 23rd, Sarah Gunn, Chair of the Board said:

“Dr. Bell’s Family Centre is a vital community hub which has supported over a thousand struggling families in Leith over the last ten years.

“We are unique in offering family support in the same location as a crèche and community cafe, meaning we provide a wide range of support: from counselling, to helping parents into employment, low cost childcare to English language skills, and offer a place to make friends and build up confidence.

“We want to do more, but to do that we need to be here, this year and in the long term.

We are calling on the local community, businesses and partners to come together to back Dr Bell’s and support our campaign.”

Former Leith MSP and Board member Malcolm Chisholm remarked on the significance of the launch by noting that there was “not many events with three MSPs” attending. He also added:

“Although the reduced services we currently provide are targeted at those who need them the most, there is a high demand for family support in Leith which we believe is not currently being met.

“Raising these funds will put us back on a secure footing to continue delivering vital support services to the local community”

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Ben Macpherson also spoke at the launch:

“For over 10 years Dr Bell’s Family Centre has supported hundreds of local children and many local families, often at difficult times. Their services provide significant, and sometimes critical, support for the local community.

“I will continue to do all that I can, working with local councillors, NHS Lothian and others, to help keep this excellent centre open for Leith.”


Miles Briggs, MSP for Lothian Conservative; Sarah Gunn, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Ben MacPherson, local MSP for Leith; Malcolm Chisholm, former MSP for North East Edinburgh and Minister for Health, now a Board Member; Alison Johnstone, MSP Scottish Green Party

The cause has drawn attention and support from across the political spectrum. Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, said:

“The Family Centre provides some incredibly effective resources through the family support work, counselling and employability services provided by the centre and also provides crèche facilities for hundreds of children, many of which come from some of the most deprived parts of our city, providing them with a better start to life.

“I wholeheartedly support the efforts of all the staff and volunteers at Dr Bell’s Family Centre in the fundraising campaign and will continue to support the centre whenever and however I can.”

The centre was set up as a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian and the local community in 2006 in response to a recognised need within the community for family support.

Leith Councillor, Adam McVey commented:

“Dr Bells has been there for people who needed their services, now Leithers are needed to help secure those services for the future”

Rachel King from Mental Health and Wellbeing department of NHS Lothian expressed her interest in helping students help Dr Bell’s:

“Family based support such as that available at Dr Bell’s Centre is very positive for parents mental health and wellbeing, and the centre offers a welcoming space, great food and staff who can work with the whole family.

“I would be very interested in hearing from university groups that could be involved in the fundraising for this unique family support centre”

Donate here and spread the word using #backdrbells.

Scottish councils facing over half a billion pounds of funding deficit, Accounts Commission warns

Scottish councils could face a combined funding gap of £553 million by 2018, according to a new report from the Accounts Commission.

The Commission has said that, based on figures from 2015-16, local authorities are currently in good financial health, but have found that there could be “significant challenges” in the future.

Forecasting for the next three years, the report’s analysis found that the deficit between the money that councils raise and what they spend could rise from £87 million in 2016-17 to £553 million in 2018-19.

The figures would mean that a large proportion of local authorities would face a gap in funding higher than the amount currently held in reserves.

The Commission acknowledged that councils face, “increasing pressure from a long-term decline in funding, rising demand for services and increasing costs such as pensions.”

More to follow later.

Scottish Council worries about the impact on front line services funding.
Scottish Council worries about the impact on front line services funding.

Donald Trump blasts Scottish wind farms, claims they “sully” the county’s beauty

By Eoghan Scott

Donald Trump has claimed Scottish wind farms “sully” the country’s natural beauty, according to a BBC report on the President elect’s recent meeting with Nigel Farage.

According to Leave campaigner Andy Wigmore, who was also present at the meeting, Trump was said to be offended by the wind farms. “He has got a bugbear – he doesn’t like wind farms at all. He says ‘when I look out of my window and I see these windmills, it offends me. You’ve got to do something about these windmills. Let’s put them offshore, why spoil the beautiful countryside?'”

This news comes almost a year after it was reported that Donald Trump had lost a legal battle against 11 wind turbines close to Aberdeen, close to the businessman cum President-elect’s golf development off the Aberdeenshire coast. He argued at the time that the windmills would spoil the view.

Speaking to the BBC, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “One would have thought Mr Trump would have far more important issues to be dealing with.

“The reality is that offshore wind turbines are already making a significant contribution to the UK’s power supply. And, given that Scotland is home to a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource, we should be aiming to make the most of this clean power source.”

ScottishPower Renewables could not be reached for comment.

In-form Spartans look forward to cup final


by Iain Jones

Edinburgh’s Spartans FC will take on fellow Scottish Lowland Football League side East Kilbride FC in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final this Sunday in West Lothian.

The winners will face SPFL League Two club Berwick Rangers in the East of Scotland Cup Final on Tuesday 12th April.

Spartans are unbeaten in all competitions since 2nd January this year and currently sit 2nd in the Lowland League table, 13 points behind fellow capital side Edinburgh City FC.

Spartans midfielder Jack Beesley said: “We’ve obviously had quite a lot of matches quite thick and fast so certainly our match fitness will be good. We’ve got training on Thursday and then the match on Sunday so, yeah, everything’s looking good.”

The Spartans have played the South Lanarkshire side twice in the league already this season, drawing one match and winning the other.

“Over the past few years they’ve probably been our toughest opponents,” said Beesley. “They’re probably as tough a final as you could have at our level so it will certainly be a tough game.”

The East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final kicks off on Sunday 20th March at 3.30pm at Albyn Park in Broxburn.

International News March 16th

Russia withdraws from Syria

The first Russian warplanes left Syria yesterday a day after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will be withdrawing from the conflict in Syria. Russia will however continue its air strikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit Russia next week to discuss the situation in Syria, a nation that now faces its sixth year of civil war. Mr. Kerry said the UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva in addition to Russia’s withdrawal may be the best opportunity to end the conflict that has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people and displaced more than 6 million people with no end in sight for the nearly 18 million people that are left behind.

LSE merges with Deutsche Börse

The London Stock Exchange is set to merge with Deutsche Börse in Frankfurt in a £20 bn deal. This is done to ward off a potential rival bid from the US, costs are expected to be cut by £354m a year. Deutsche Börse shareholders will own 54.4% of the new company with LSE shareholders owning the remainder.

Trump vs. Clinton?

Hillary Clinton is one step closer to become the US presidential candidate for the Democratic party after defeating Bernie Sanders in the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primaries last night.  Meanwhile Donald Trump defeated Republican rival Ted Cruz in the Missouri primaries but lost to John Kasich in Kasich’s home state of Ohio. Marco Rubio conceded his defeat last night to supporters in Miami, leaving only Cruz and Kasich in Trump’s way to become the Republican candidate for the US presidency.

Budget 2016 and What it Means For Scottish Enterprise

George Osborne is set to unveil his proposals for this year’s budget later today, which could have huge impacts for several key Scottish industries.

This afternoon’s speech is expected to announce an additional £4 billion in spending cuts, and will place an emphasis on “long term” investment within UK enterprise.

However, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney has warned the chancellor that if he fails to support Scotland’s oil and gas enterprises in his new budget, the sector as a whole will fail to prosper in the UK.

Mr. Swinney has described the oil and gas industry as one of Scotland’s “main economic and industrial success stories”, however the sector in the North Sea has been facing notable challenges as prices around the globe continue to fall.

In light of these issues, employment prospects and future investment within the oil and gas industry has been severely affected, and Mr. Swinney claims that any “indecision and inconsistency” from Mr. Osborne will only further exacerbate the situation.

Mr. Swinney has called for “immediate action” from the chancellor and Westminster to ensure that the industry’s full potential is met: “Today I repeat my calls for immediate action from the chancellor in his March Budget to ensure the significant potential of the North Sea is realised.

“The Scottish government has been engaging with the industry, unions, and the Oil and Gas Authority to address the challenges facing the Oil and Gas sector.

“There is consensus across stakeholders that the loss of highly-skilled workers and critical infrastructure could be realised if urgent action is not taken.”

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale has also demanded that the chancellor set out a plan of action within this afternoon’s budget to aid the industry: “Thousands of jobs have already been lost with a devastating effect on the Scottish economy.

“That’s why Labour have called for a new UK oil agency to invest in infrastructure and prevent assets such as platforms and pipelines being decommissioned earlier than planned.”

A report released in February of this year laid bare the full extent of the “North Sea Oil Crisis”.

The damning document revealed that the price of oil per barrel has now steeped to roughly $30 per barrel. By comparison, the price per barrel just two years ago was set at over $100.

As a result, it is estimated that 10,000 posts within Scotland’s oil and gas enterprises have been cut.

In Aberdeenshire, an area heavily reliant on the offshore oil and gas industry in terms of employment, it was revealed that the amount of people claiming out of work benefits has risen exponentially by 92 per cent in just over a year.

Scotland’s whiskey enterprise has also called for Mr. Osborne to assist the industry, which was shown to still be Scotland’s largest net contributor in trade goods, by calling for a further two per cent in excise duty.

Mr. Osborne announced a similar cut for the industry in 2014, and while The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) confirmed that the situation has gradually improved, duty for the average bottle of whisky still stands at around 76 per cent.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “Given the scale and impact of the Scotch whisky industry, we believe the Government should re-double its efforts to support distillers.

“At home, in the short term, a further 2% duty cut in next month’s Budget would be a major boost, supporting small businesses that rely on the home market and further investment in the sector.”

Similarly, the Scottish tobacco industry has claimed that a lack of support from Westminster has resulted in the industry being “demonised”, and that they fear their industry will largely be ignored in today’s budget.

The proposed budget has also drawn controversy in Westminster, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonell dismissing it as a “publicity stunt to hide his [Mr. Osborne’s] failures.

The budget for 2016 is set to be delivered at 12.30, following Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Scottish minsters and local councillors remain hopeful that the speech will highlight the importance of the country’s enterprise to the UK infrastructure as a whole, and that substantial investment will be awarded accordingly.