Unemployment rate still rising across Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport but figures give 'reason for optimism'

UNEMPLOYMENT rates are still rising but not as sharply as previously expected, according to the Portsmouth JobCentre.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:15 pm
JobCentre, Arundel Street, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (270221-11)

Figures released yesterday show that while there were six million people on Universal Credit nationally in February, this was just a two per cent increase from the month before.

However this is a 100 per cent increase year on year, up from three million people, although changes to Universal Credit eligibility allowing people with higher incomes to claim means that people who are in work but claiming benefits are now counted.

The last Alternative Claimant Count in November – which looks at those people searching for work – showed there were 2.74 million unemployed in the UK, a 1.5 per cent increase in the last quarter and 110 per cent increase in the last year.

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Figures in Portsmouth found there were 21,730 people on Universal Credit in February, up from 21,241 the month before.

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In Havant, Gosport and Fareham, there were also increases in the amount of people claiming.

In Havant, the number rose from 10,111 in January to 10,380 in February, in Gosport it rose from 7,153 to 7,335 and in Fareham it rose from 5,507 to 5,622.

Senior employer and partnership manager at Portsmouth JobCentre Ed Coomber said they were working hard to offset the damage caused by the pandemic.

He said: ‘We have seen a steady state over the last month. It shows us that the economy is recovering, and proves that the schemes we are running are keeping staffing levels under control.

‘Our local Jobcentre teams are working incredibly hard to support all people who have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We have recruited a large number of new work coaches to work with Universal Credit claimants and help them into new or better paid jobs.

‘We’re working closely with young people in particular, opening up a new Youth Hub for 18-24-year-old Universal Credit claimants in Portsmouth.

‘This is a virtual service until lockdown restrictions ease, and is based at the Hive and the Civic Offices.

‘There are multiple organisations who will be based there at various times such as Jobcentre Plus, Princes Trust, & the National Career Service.

‘We also have the Kickstart scheme, where 18-24-year old Universal Credit claimants can be placed into paid employment with the support of their work coach.

‘With the support of local and national employers, we have hundreds of live vacancies in various different sectors in the area available to young people.’

Minister for employment Mims Davies MP said the figures gave a reason for optimism.

She said: ‘Today’s figures highlight the challenges facing us on our road to recovery, but there is reason for optimism with more workers on payrolls and over half a million vacancies out there.

‘Our Plan for Jobs is delivering for people of all ages right across the country, and with the recruitment of an additional 10,000 Work Coaches and the opening of new Jobcentres in local communities, we’re helping even more Brits back into work as we build back better from the pandemic.’

Minister for welfare delivery Will Quince said: ‘This government continues to support millions of people in need through Universal Credit. It is a key pillar of our response as we continue to move out of lockdown, and will remain as a vital safety net as we build back better.

‘Our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, including our flagship Kickstart scheme for young people and Job Entry Targeted Support aimed at those who have lost jobs in the pandemic, is helping people back on their feet and will support nearly two million jobs. And we are offering additional help for low-paid families as well, such as the recently-extended £229m Covid Winter Grant Scheme, designed to keep vulnerable children warm and well-fed.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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