Jobs fear remains as green shoots finally show

Lewisham on a road to recovery. Photo: Matt@Flickr

Lewisham on a road to recovery. Photo: Matt@Flickr

The United Kingdom is officially out of recession, according to new figures released on Tuesday. But what does this actually mean for the people of East and South London?

Statistics show that the British economy grew by 0.1% in the last three months of 2009. This comes after the longest period of economic contraction, during which many businesses struggled and unemployment rose.

Stephen Nelson, principal director of the South East London Chamber of Commerce, said: “The growth rate has improved as the confidence of the small and medium enterprises over the last 4,5 months has increased.”

According to economic experts, adequate steps still need to be taken by the public and private sector to ensure that consumer confidence increases and maintains an upward trajectory. The employment figures showed a positive trend last week as there was an increase in the number of people employed. This includes a rise in employment figures along the East London Lines.

But there is still a worry that joblessness could increase in the future if public spending is cut. In boroughs like Lewisham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets, there is a ‘’huge need for business support delivered locally,” said Mr. Nelson.

So, East London Lines took to the streets of New Cross to ask what locals thought of this news, and discovered mixed opinions. Some felt cheered, while others expressed scepticism about its positive effects for their everyday lives:

Alicia, 24, a musician, was unmoved by the news: “It doesn’t change a thing for me. I felt that it was an extremely overly publicized event, the recession. It was a big moral panic and I wasn’t really interested in it. However, I think outside of London people have suffered – small businesses especially. So maybe they will feel better, coming back out of the recession – but for somebody like myself it’s not really going to change anything.”

“We didn’t have as much business last year as we have had the previous years, but it hasn’t affected us massively,’’ said Paula, 26, a photographer. “We’re from Argentina, so it’s not a recession for us compared to the kind of problems we’ve been through in our country – it’s not a proper recession! I expect to get more business now we’re out of the recession, but it’s probably going to take time to recover.”

Richard, a Transport for London worker, was cheered by the news. “The recession is over? Really?”, he asked, with a pleased laugh. “I have been affected by it, so that’s good. I don’t think it seems like it’s over yet, as they’ve only announced that today, but I’m expecting things to get better within the next couple of months, hopefully. But that’s beautiful news. It means we’ll have more opportunities for young people.”

“I’m deeply sceptical, ‘’ said Rheem, 24, Students Union sabbatical officer at Goldsmiths, University of London. “I think the government bailing out the banks makes it look like everything’s rosy, when actually there’s an insidious, evil banking problem that is sapping the life out of ordinary people, making it harder and harder to live sustainably, to buy homes, to be a student. Prices of everyday things are going up, like bus fares – thanks Boris! I don’t think that statements like ‘We’re out of recession’ are very helpful.”

Sebastian, 24, a stock controller, took a more pragmatic stance: “It’s debatable whether 0.1% really means we are out of a recession, to be quite honest, because that’s a very minimal margin. Obviously it gives people the illusion of being out the recession, so maybe they are more free with their disposable income. That is half the battle though, so maybe it changes our economy in the upcoming months. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Additional reporting by Fatimah Inayet and Hanna Woodside

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