Record rise in unemployment benefit claims affects North Somerset
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It is believed the Government’s coronavirus response could mean some people are on unemployment-related benefits while still being employed.
Thousands of more people in North Somerset have claimed unemployment benefits in the last two months, figures reveal.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) claims 6,240 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in the district as of May.
This is an increase of 3,630 people compared with figures taken in March.
The ONS numbers include residents aged between 16 and 64 who are on Jobseekers Allowance, as well as some Universal Credit claimants, before rounding numbers to the nearest five.
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As a whole, ONS figures reveal 2.8million claimants across the UK in May, the highest the number has stood at since 1993. However, the ONS notes that changes to Universal Credit due to the coronavirus pandemic may affect the readings.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an anti-poverty charity, believes the Government should focus on creating jobs in places that have seen the biggest increases in unemployment while giving workers opportunities to gain new skills.
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The foundation’s head of economics, David Innes, said: “Alongside this, the Government should also boost benefits so people are not pulled into poverty if they lose their jobs.”
North Somerset Council’ executive member for business, economy and employment, Mark Canniford, said: “We know there is a disproportionate economic impact on people who have lower levels of income, especially in parts of North Somerset which rely on tourism, hospitality and leisure for jobs.
“We need more funding to support people to reskill and retrain as the economy recovers, making sure those who are hardest hit are the first to access new job opportunities.”
Furthermore, a spokesperson for the authority outlined some of the work it has carried out alongside businesses within the district’s economy.
They said: “(The council has been) working with Alliance Homes and Weston College, launching a care academy to provide career pathways into the care sector, as well as working with the National Careers Service,
Weston College and Community Learning, helping people get back into work.
“It has also delivered much-needed grant programmes to those businesses in need of financial assistance due to COVID-19.
“The council is also creating immediate interventions around social distancing to support businesses as they look to open later next month.”