Falkirk needs investment as unemployment rockets

Falkirk Council is not giving up on ambitious plans to fulfil the economic potential of the area and help drastically lower its carbon emissions.

By Kirsty Paterson
Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:45 pm

Indeed, council chiefs believe that investment in the economy is even more vital now that the effects of Covid-19 are beginning to be felt across the district.

A report to the council’s emergency executive on Thursday will show the scale of the challenges facing local people – with unemployment rising by 91.5 per cent.

It states: “The Falkirk area has witnessed significant impacts from Covid-19 with the likelihood of significant job losses following the announcement of impending redundancies at several major local companies.

The impending closure of Callendar Square in Falkirk is another reason investment is needed, according to the council

“Town centres are anticipated to have been impacted adversely, with the recent announcement of the impending closure of the Callendar Square centre reinforcing the scale of concern.”

The report will show that during lockdown, 18,800 employees (29.5 per cent of total employees in Falkirk) have been furloughed.

Those most affected were in accommodation, food services and arts and entertainment, where 73 per cent of employees were on furlough, while 59 per cent of those in construction were furloughed; and in manufacturing 40 per cent.

A total of 2039 business have received grant support.

The council still hopes to put in place projects costing a total of £235 million in the area, to be delivered over the next 15 years.

The Scottish Government has said it will give £50 million towards the plans, while the UK Government will contribute £40 million.

Key areas include upgrades to Junction 5 and Inchyra Road; new access to Port of Grangemouth; additional rail freight capacity; and a carbon capture pipeline link.

But with government funding falling short, the council is having to decide where its priorities lie and look for other funding to fulfil its ambitions.

Falkirk Council’s emergency executive will meet online on Thursday.