Seeing Red is my regular column in The Isle of Thanet News. This opinion piece was first published on December 15 2017.
It seems strange to me that as the rest of the South East enjoys prosperity and jobs growth, Thanet finds itself losing out on much needed employment opportunities and economic growth.
Thanet has recorded the largest increases in the claimant count in Kent, up 115 to 3,070. This may be skewed by claims for Universal Credit which is currently being ‘rolled out’ in Thanet for those making new claims. So, some of those counted as claimants may be in work but also claiming benefits. It’s still indicative of a very low economic base especially compared to the wealthy South East.
I think it’s high time for urgent action on economic regeneration, Thanet needs rewarding and sustainable jobs, not zero hour contracts, not just seasonal roles, and other insecure work, but decent employment that people can actually build lives around. In particular creating opportunities for our young people should be paramount, we don’t want this generation left behind or forced to leave Thanet. We need to use all our talent.
There’s a clear link between our poor Labour Market, (local workers are paid about £5k per year less than other parts of Kent and the South East), and child poverty in Thanet. The ‘cure’ for poverty is decent work and decent pay. Put money into people’s pockets and they tend to spend it in the local economy. Meaning local businesses feel the benefit.
We need to prioritise inward investment into Thanet. In particular any opportunity to welcome jobs that will stand up to the rapid technological change on the horizon should be grabbed at! This rules out ‘warehousing’ type jobs in favour of companies developing battery technology, or other green, pharmaceutical, and advanced manufacturing for instance.
There is no intrinsic reason why Thanet cannot transform into a thriving and sustaining economy. It’s a beautiful place, the coast adds a great deal to our quality of life, there are many talented, entrepreneurial and community minded people. We need joined up thinking between our politicians, community and business leaders, and our schools and college.
Year on year Thanet’s employment prospect seem to grow worse. A proper plan for economic regeneration is long overdue.
This article was first published on 15th December 2017 in The Isle of Thanet News.