County continues with a balanced economy and increasing opportunities

Near full employment with the latest Jobseekers Allowance claimant figure now continuing at 0.8 per cent, (an all-time low) is further evidence that we have an economy that is balanced with increasing new opportunities.

Amongst the progress are developments at the new business innovation centre at Keele University Science and Innovation Park which could help create 130 jobs. This £7million centre is aimed at high growth businesses, providing high quality office and workshop accommodation.

In the south of the county, development continues to gather pace at Cannock Chase district’s flagship Kingswood Lakeside business park and likewise at Redhill in Stafford which I’ve spoken about recently. At i54 South Staffordshire we have also just confirmed sale of three more plots. This is all part of our vision and ongoing drive to bring innovative business and new better paid jobs to the people of Staffordshire.

In addition to growing the economy and creating jobs, helping to develop the voluntary sector also remains one of our priorities. Helping us achieve this is VAST, and last week I joined staff to welcome the Duke of Kent for the opening of their new Hub in Stafford.

VAST provide practical support services to voluntary and community groups on a wide range of subjects including bidding for funding, recruiting volunteers, staff training and how to tender for contracts. Having VAST at the heart of the voluntary sector is great news for our local communities and has given them an excellent base from which to deliver their services. Alternative other help and advice is also available at www.justact.org.uk

The voluntary and community sector play an important role in helping improve the lives of people in Staffordshire and it’s vital that these initiatives and organisations are supported.

From the voluntary hub now to the new Carers Hubs, Giving carers of all ages and circumstances access to local support services. The new Carers Hubs, one in Hanley and one in Stafford will provide information and advice, support groups, activities, training and will arrange referrals to other organisations when specialist help is needed.

We know that carers play a vital role in our society, and every day thousands of people in Staffordshire provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner. It’s important to remember that carers will need support themselves at some point too so having the Hubs will give them somewhere to turn to for help and advice when they need it.

Parents with children under five looking for information on the move might be interested to hear about the latest addition to the My Staffs App. The new tile provides information on family planning, pregnancy, baby, toddler and pre-school parenting, along with a looking after you section.

One in three people that access our services online now do so from a mobile device and this is expected to increase over the next few years. And with people leading increasingly busier lives and getting jobs done on the move, it is vital that we make it as easy and efficient as possible for them to do so. The ‘My Staffs App’ is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App store and Google Play Stores.

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