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'Low unemployment is only half the story' says MP

May 16, 2012 2:49 PM

Tim at GilkesTim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale welcomed figures released today by the Office of National Statistics which showed Westmorland and Lonsdale has amongst the lowest unemployment figures in England.

Residence based unemployment in the constituency was recorded at 1.3% for the March this year - this is nearly four times lower than the rest of the region. Nationally, official figures showed that UK unemployment fell by 45,000 between January and March to 2.63 million. Westmorland and Lonsdale has 652 people currently claiming job seekers allowance.

Tim is campaigning to bring more well paid jobs to the South Lakes and was involved in the successful bid to bring the £500million GlaxoSmithKline development to Ulverston, an estimated £70m to the Canal Head Development in Kendal and 100 jobs back at the re-opened Ambleside Campus. Tim also helped secure success for Cumbria's bid in DEFRA's Rural Growth Network which will bring investment to Clawthorpe Hall in Burton-in-Kendal, Sedbergh Community Centre and the Marl in Ulverston.

In addition, Tim is championing apprenticeships in our county. Tim wants to make 2012 the 'year of the apprentice' in Cumbria. So far over 3,200 people have started an apprenticeship since August last year. This adds to the 5,280 who were on an apprenticeship in 2010/2011, representing an increase of 58% on the previous year. In Westmorland & Lonsdale the apprenticeship figures have risen by 96%.

Commenting Mr Farron said: "This announcement is great news for our local economy, but only tells half the story. The South Lakes has a large elderly population which isn't accounted for in these figures. Furthermore, although unemployment here is low; wages are even lower because the South Lakes has such a high percentage of seasonal workers.

"Attracting fresh investment and more well paid jobs to our area is a priority of mine and I am doing all I can to support our local economy. Recently we helped to secure investments for GlaxoSmithKline in Ulverston and Gilkes in Kendal, which will create 800 jobs and safeguard hundreds of others. However, we can and must do even more. That's why I want to make the South Lakes Cumbria's economic hub."