Minister's challenge over transfer of powers
A GOVERNMENT minister has challenged Bristol's leaders to justify the transfer of powers from Whitehall and drive its economic recovery.
Chris Grayling, the employment and skills minister, said the city would only be given new freedoms if it could come up with an "imaginative" and "innovative" approach to the city's economic development when power is devolved under a new "city deal" arrangement.
He was speaking as the latest unemployment figures showed a slight drop in the number of people claiming job seeker's allowance in the area, down from 22,551 in April to 22,318 last month.
The fall of 233 represents a 1 per cent reduction in claimant numbers.
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In Bristol there were 12,698 people claiming jobseeker's allowance last month, down from 12,893 in April.
In South Gloucestershire the number of claimants fell from 3,828 to 3,798. North Somerset saw a small rise in the number of jobseekers, from 3,330 to 3,336, while in Bath & North East Somerset, the claimant count fell from 2,500 to 2,486.
But despite the slight drop in the number of people claiming job seeker's allowance from last month, the picture is worse than a year ago - with around 2,500 more people on the dole than in May 2011.
Yesterday Mr Grayling said Bristol was one of the nation's "most important business centres."
He said: "I think what we're looking for, in the city deals, is an imaginative, well thought out, local approach to economic development."