Were 1,900 jobs created by Belfast City Council?

CLAIM: Nearly 1,900 jobs created by Belfast City Council in 6 months.

CONCLUSION: Inaccurate. 420 new jobs created plus 447 job vacancies filled. An unknown number of new jobs have been created from council’s City for Investment service.

On 19 November, Sync NI Start-ups tweeted that “nearly 1,900 jobs have been created … by Belfast City Council over the last six months”.

The claim also appeared on the Council’s website itself, where it is described as the result of the city’s long-term development plan — the Belfast Agenda. It says that the “details about the number of jobs created, directly and indirectly, as a result of council support were given to councillors as part of a progress report on the 2018/2019 City Growth and Regeneration Committee work plan”.

This work plan was put forward 11 April 2018 and included a range of activities to be supported in the course of the year. It was stated back then that “if all targets are met, this activity will support the creation of 1,664 jobs”.

The 1,900 jobs figure was announced at the 10 October 2018 meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee, where it was stated that “over the six-month period [April-September 2018], the Council had directly and indirectly supported the creation of 1,868 jobs”.

On 7 November 2018, the committee launched an update of the plan, reporting on the progress made during the first six months of the Belfast Region City Deal.

FactCheckNI emailed Belfast City Council, asking for more detail. The request was dealt with by the council under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Its response included the following table, which lists job outcomes across thematic areas:

Workstream Job outcomes achieved
Working & Learning 447 individuals progressed into employment
Starting a Business 174 jobs created through the creation of new businesses
Business Growth 246 jobs created through the expansion of existing businesses
Investing in Belfast Fifty businesses supported through our investment service committing to create 1,000 new jobs within Belfast

FactCheckNI notes that these four workstreams add up to 1,867 rather than the 1,868 figure given to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee. Three of the figures are precise, while the fourth is an estimate (with no +/- error).

Working and Learning

Under the Working and Learning workstream of the work plan, the outcome of job delivery is primarily through Employment Academies and match funding from the European Social Fund, both for programmes aimed at reducing the working age population of economic inactivity.

There are 447 jobs attributed to this workstream.

Starting a Business

According to the council, the 174 jobs under the theme, Starting a Business, are attributed to a number of business startup initiatives including the Go For It programme, Belfast Enterprise Academy, and the council’s Social Economy programme, Go Social. These jobs are itemised as follows:

  • 148 jobs are attributed to the Go for It programme. Go For It is partly funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014 – 2020) Programme and is contracted to be delivered across the 11 Councils. The 148 jobs stated are specific to the delivery achievements of this contract within the Belfast City Council jurisdiction alone.
  • 9 jobs were created through the Belfast Enterprise Academy, this is a graduate business start programme operating within the Belfast City Council jurisdiction.
  • 17 jobs were created through the Go Social programme, this is an initiative operating solely within the Belfast City Council jurisdiction.

Business Growth

The work plan report stated that 246 jobs were created “through our initiatives to encourage business to grow and increase their productivity”. These jobs are itemised as follows:

  • 208 jobs were supported through The Innovation Factory. The Innovation Factory is located on the Springfield Road in West Belfast. It offers a wide selection of office space to new and expanding businesses, support offered through this facility includes business growth and innovation mentoring and seminars aimed at supporting the growth of tenant companies.
  • 33 jobs were created through business mentoring support provided through the Council’s Think Do Be programme.
  • 5 jobs were created through the Retail and Hospitality development support. This initiative supported businesses within the Retail and Hospitality sector to expand their business through the provision of mentoring support.

Investing in Belfast

In regards to “committing to create” 1,000 new jobs within Belfast, the council further answered us:

“The 1,000 jobs referred to relates to a commitment by businesses to invest in the Belfast City Council area. The jobs referred to include a combination of jobs which have been created and are scheduled to be created in line with their timeline and plans for investment.”

Information on the City for Investment Service can be found online.

Summary

The report provided to councillors on the 2018/2019 City Growth and Regeneration work plan contains details about the number of jobs created, directly and indirectly, as a result of council support.

FactCheckNI determined that the claim of the “creation of 1,868 jobs” is of a mixture of existing job vacancies, new jobs, and unrealised new jobs.

Council actions helped 447 individuals into employment of existing job vacancies.

Under the work plan’s themes of Starting a Business and Business Growth, council actions led to the creation of 420 new jobs, through the creation or expansion of existing businesses.

However, it remains unclear how many new jobs have been created through the council’s City for Investment service; its goal is 1,000 jobs.

Image: Illuminated Belfast City Hall by license (c) Henryk SADURA