Gestures will not create jobs

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THE decision to strip disgraced banker Fred Goodwin of his knighthood has been welcomed by the country’s political leaders – but this dramatic gesture, on its own, will not transform the economy.

A number of new reports, conveniently ignored by David Cameron and Ed Miliband at Prime Minister’s Questions, reveal that Britain’s prospects for 2012 remain bleak. And while the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies believes Chancellor George Osborne will beat his deficit reduction target by £3bn, this, alone, will not be sufficient to withstand the Eurozone’s collapse – or, even more pertinently in these parts, the cost pressures associated with an ageing population.

It is a salutary warning, as Nick Clegg pushes for the rich to pay for the lifting of the tax threshold for the less well-off, that the key to Britain’s recovery is the creation of a new generation of private sector jobs.

As politicians heap pressure on the banks over bonuses and honours, it is imperative that they do everything within power to ensure financial support for deprived regions makes a lasting difference.

This need is re-enforced by those academics who have concluded that little value for money is provided by grants to firms that already employ 150 or more people. One theory is that organisations of this size have greater scope to exploit subsidies to suit their own ends rather than the intended purpose.

Two points can be derived from this. First, there needs to be greater scrutiny to ensure public funds are spent wisely – and achieve the specified objective. Second, it is a reminder that small businesses have the potential to be the backbone of the economy if they are given the infrastructure support to fulfil their potential and help to bring down the rate of unemployment.

As funding streams switch from regional development agencies like Yorkshire Forward to the fledgling – and still untested – local enterprise partnerships, it is imperative that these concerns are acknowledged before even more money goes to waste.

It is the last thing that Yorkshire needs when the fate of so many young people rests on the Government’s ability to create a sufficient number of new jobs.