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North-East Unemployment Set to Spike As Furlough Scheme Ends

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Author: Emma Robson

53,100 people in the region were still receiving furlough when the scheme came to an end on the 30th of September.

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many businesses to close, the £70 billion pound government scheme has been responsible for supporting millions of people across the UK over the last 18 months. However, with the scheme now coming to an end, concerns are being raised about whether the end of the scheme will see unemployment figures in the region soar.

Economists have forewarned that although many people may find employment in the sectors that are beginning to recover such as travel and hospitality, there is also likely to be new redundancies as a result of businesses losing access to the government funding. The North-East Chamber of Commerce warns that the end of furlough could be tough for businesses as they have new problems arising due to the after effects of the pandemic, “we’ve got a whole new wave of issues that are hitting them (businesses)…price rises, supply chain issues, labour issues etc.”

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Simon Clarke said the current employment situation in the UK is “really strong.” He added, “It’s been a huge success in meaning this awful situation hasn’t cost millions of jobs which would have been the central estimate when this all began.”

Simon Jordan: Twitter

Despite this, there are over 1 million people who were expecting to be receiving furlough past the end of September, and Rishi Sunak has announced a new scheme to support families who need it most with rising fuel costs. The ‘Household Support Fund’ will provide many families with extra cash, distributed by local councils to help families with essentials over the coming months.

Alan Custis, head of UK equities at Lazard Asset Management, stated that the rate of employment which fell to 4.6% last month is likely to swing higher over the coming months. Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics has expressed concern that consumer demand will not have broadened enough for businesses to re-employ all their staff who remained on furlough.

Leaders in some of the most heavily affected industries have urged for policy reforms in other areas. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “With businesses currently experiencing a record number of vacancies, our hope is that those seeking employment will consider the varied and exciting opportunities a career in hospitality offers. She added, ‘in order to drive further job creation, we urge the Government to implement a long-overdue reform of business rates and a permanently lower rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism in order to help fragile businesses back on their feet.”

However, the end of the schemes comes with a record number of UK vacancies, the Office of National Statistics data reporting that there are more than a million job openings currently throughout the UK for the first time on record. There has been a surge in the hiring of HGV drivers, warehouse staff and food production workers, and countries such as the United States of America and Australia also faced similar spikes in unemployment when their financial support schemes came to an end.

The Government insists that now the vast majority of restrictions have been relaxed, it is the right time to end the scheme and concentrate on creating skills and opportunities.

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Seaburn and Roker Beaches Named Best Beaches in the Country in 2022

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Sunderland’s beaches have been named among the best in the country for the 11th year running.

Seaburn and Roker were both named as winners of the Seaside Award by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. The pair were once again handed Blue Flags, marking them out for their for their excellent water quality, cleanliness and attempts to constantly improve visitor amenities.

The Blue Flag awards, now in their 35th year, are issued by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and act as ‘a quality mark so visitors can be sure the beaches boast top-notch facilities and meet the highest environmental standards’.

Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Vibrant City, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland’s beautiful beaches once again awarded the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Award.

“Flying these flags at Roker and Seaburn shows everyone who visits that our seafront has excellent quality bathing water and first-class facilities.

“We’re very lucky to have fantastic beaches with beautiful, clean water to swim and bathe in, and this national recognition is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in keeping our beaches clean, tidy and well-maintained.”

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Family’s bid to bring home body of Gateshead lad who drowned while rescuing his dog in Spain

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Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, who has been living in Spain, was pulled from a river near Benidorm by ambulance crews on Monday.

A Gateshead family is appealing for help to bring an ‘amazing, selfless’ 25-year-old home, after he drowned in Spain while rescuing his dog from a river.

Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, after successfully freeing the dog from the current. Now his family has launched a fundraising appeal to help bring Paul’s body back home and give him the memorial he deserves.

Paul’s cousin, Kallym Bell, launched a GoFundMe page in support of Paul’s parents, Deborah and Paul Snr. In less than 24 hours the page had already raised over £7,000, with hundreds of people leaving comments paying tribute to ‘one of nicest men you could ever meet’.

Keen amateur boxer Paul was well known by many people across the Leam Lane Estate, and beloved by colleagues from the several years he spent working in the navy. Kallym, 19, called Paul: “An amazing, selfless man with a heart of gold, always the biggest laugh and the very best to be around.”

Donations can be made to help bring Paul home at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-remembrance-of-paul-lebihan

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Disabled Teen Denied Wetherspoon’s Entry With Assistance Dog

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A disabled teenager said he felt ‘absolutely humiliated’ after he was refused entry to a Wetherspoons with his assistance dog. 19 year old River Cartledge, who has autism, fibromyalgia and arthritis – takes his assistance dog Chico most places with him.

Video footage below from Instagram shows him pleading with security guards and the manager of The Five Swans in Newcastle to let him inside the pub with his harnessed up Shih Tzu on Saturday night.

River said: “Their issue was the fact he was an assistance dog, and not a guide dog.

“I quoted the Equality Act 2010, and the guide for all businesses, both of which any business that’s open to the public like any Wetherspoons is, have to abide by legally, regardless of any “policy” they may have in place,” he added.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them. It also requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers.

River claimed he had a ‘severe meltdown and panic attack’ after the interaction. ‘I have never had an experience like this and it caused me to have a medical episode.’

Chico has belonged to River for eight years and was trained as an assistance dog two years ago. River said: “Assistance dog handlers such as myself get denied in public places more often than it’s talked about, and it always makes us feel like this, and like we’re the ones causing problems for ourselves by needing a dog, when in reality it’s the ableism and ignorance of other people, not the disabled person.”

He also added “‘I was straight up told that they only allowed seeing eye dogs and they didn’t allow assistance dogs, because of their “policy”.

According to Guide Dogs UK ‘75% of all assistance dog owners surveyed [in 2015] said they had been refused access to a service at some point because they had an assistance dog with them’. 

Five Swans: sign saying they allow assistance dogs *face palm*

Wetherspoons’ policy states: “We do allow registered assistance dogs.

“In these circumstances, and to avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, ensure that your dog is wearing its recognisable leash/collar or harness. 

“It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain your dog’s purpose.”

River said he had ID from Assistance Dogs UK, a certification body, with him but was unable to show it at the time. Chico was however wearing a harness.

Following the complaint to the pub chain, Wetherspoon’s spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: “It was an error not to let them in with the assistance dog.

“It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

“We can understand the fact they would have been upset and frustrated by the situation.

“Assistance dogs are allowed into Wetherspoon pubs and we will reiterate this to staff at the pub and the company’s pubs in general.

“They are more than welcome to visit the pub with the dog.”

Good dog Chico. Check out River and Chico’s adventures here!

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