Out-of-work benefit claims drop in Portsmouth area

Unite the trade union holding a universal credit protest on the doorstep of Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt's constituency office on November 10. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Universal Credit claimants set to lose out over Christmas

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THE number of people claiming out-of-work benefits has dropped in the area.

In total 96 fewer people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance across Portsmouth, Havant and Fareham.

But in Gosport 19 more people claimed JSA, which is available to anyone under pensionable age while seeking work of at least 40 hours a week.

n In Portsmouth, 79 fewer people claimed JSA in September dropping to 2,734 from 2,813 in August.

n In Gosport, 19 more people claimed it, increasing to 767.

n In Havant, seven fewer people claimed it, falling to 1,342.

n In Fareham, 10 fewer people claimed the benefit in September compared with 538 in August.

Nationally unemployment dropped by six per cent – a six-year low, according to the Department for Work & Pensions.

That is compared with an unemployment rate of 7.7 per cent last year.

In Portsmouth two per cent of adults in the area are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, compared to 1.5 per cent in Gosport, 1.8 per cent per cent in Havant and 0.8 per cent in Fareham.

Tina Neessen, from Gosport Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said more people could be claiming JSA as rules have tightened for Employment Support Allowance.

She said: ‘Some of it is where people are turned down for ESA, they have to claim JSA.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said the increase in claims in Gosport was atypical and was a blip in the figures.

‘It’s fairly reflective of the picture in the south east,’ Ms Dinenage told The News.

‘I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. There are significant drops which are making a real tangible difference to people’s lives. We’ve got more people in work than ever before.’

The average number of JSA claimants in Gosport was 1,418 each month in 2010.

The government said there are now 30.76m people in work.

Employment minister Esther McVey said people are now more secure in their lives and are leaving unemployment.

She said: ‘Behind today’s figures there are countless individual stories of people turning their lives around, of families who are now feeling more secure with a regular wage, and of young people escaping unemployment and building a career.’