Thousands more people claim unemployment benefits in North Somerset

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 June 2020

Thousands more people across North Somerset are claiming unemployment benefits.Picture: Dominic Lipinski

Thousands more people across North Somerset are claiming unemployment benefits.Picture: Dominic Lipinski

PA Wire/PA Images

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has nearly doubled in the district compared to a month ago, figures reveal.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 5,100 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in North Somerset as of April 9, compared to just 2,610 the month prior.

It means the share of the population signing on rose from 2.1 per cent to 4.1, revealing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

The statistics capture the early weeks of restrictions after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country in lockdown on March 23, meaning the numbers are likely to have risen since.

However, North Somerset’s claimant rate was still just below the 4.3 per cent across the South West as a whole.

The ONS figures count those aged 16 to 64 who are on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, with numbers rounded to the nearest five.

Speaking about the effect the pandemic has had on the economy, North Somerset Council’s executive member for business, economy and employment, Mark Canniford, said we are ‘not out of the woods yet’.

Cllr Canniford said: “We are concerned about the unemployment rate in the district, but there are some great opportunities we need to take advantage of now in regards to reevaluating jobs and the scope for more people to work from home.

“Right now, we need to be mindful about how we are going to help businesses going forward, and we know they need a considerable amount of help as a result of the pandemic.”

Across the UK, the claimant count rocketed to 2.1 million on April 9 – a 66 per cent rise from March, although the ONS put the increase at 69 per cent if the figures were adjusted to take seasonal variations into account.

The increase in the share of population seeking help varies around the country, as the Isles of Scilly figure shot up from 0.7 per cent to 5.8, and Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and Elmbridge saw their claimant count rise by just 0.9 percentage points.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “These are challenging times, but Universal Credit is providing a vital safety net to those affected by the pandemic and we have injected more than £6.5billion to support people using the welfare system in the country.”

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