Unemployment in Portsmouth area at lowest rate for 40 years

New employment figures are released
New employment figures are released
  • Unemployment across the region continues on downward trend
  • However, food bank usage continues with full roll-out of Universal Credit due to next summer
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UNEMPLOYMENT is at its lowest rate since 1975, according to latest figures.

The number of people in work nationally is at a near record of 75 per cent with 32 million people in work.

It is more complicated than just saying there are more jobs in the economy. It depends on what the jobs are, how they are paid and what hours they are.

Philip Rutt, who runs Basics Bank in Fareham and Gosport

New figures, released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday, showed an increase in full-time work, with the number of people on zero hours contracts falling by 20,000.

Separate figures out yesterday also found there are 630,000 people on Universal Credit, with 40 per cent in employment.

In Portsmouth, there were 2,255 unemployed, with 365 of those aged between 18 and 24.

Leone Hill, Portsmouth-based business development manager at the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘It is very good news that the number of those unemployed across the area has continued its downward trend.

‘This trend is also set to continue with the arrival of new hotels in the city in 2018 and the opening of the Southampton Road retail park.’

Despite the statistics showing a 40-year low, food bank usage in Fareham and Gosport has grown by 10 per year on year, with many people relying on food parcels due to the rising cost of living.

Philip Rutt, who runs Basics Bank in Fareham and Gosport, said: ‘It is more complicated than just saying there are more jobs in the economy. It depends on what the jobs are, how they are paid and what hours they are.

‘The reasons people come to the food bank are complex but the bottom line is that they are skint. Part-time hours, minimum wage jobs and zero-hours contracts mask deeper problems.’

Mr Rutt also said that food bank usage in Southampton had risen 16 per cent year on year due to the roll-out of Universal Credit, which is replacing six other benefits with a single monthly payment. He said that the food bank was preparing for a further increase when the scheme is extended to Fareham in August.

Ms Hill said that the department was meeting councils across the area to ensure an easy transition to the full roll-out of Universal Credit.

Yesterday’s figures found the number of people claiming JobSeeker’s Allowance in Fareham was 485, with all job seekers aged between 18 and 24.

This was also found in Gosport where 645 people were unemployed were claiming and in Havant, the total was 1145.

Havant MP Alan Mak welcomed the figures.

He said: ‘I am delighted that Havant’s businesses are contributing to the strong national picture. Locally, unemployment is lower than the national average and those claiming out of work benefits has fallen by half since 2010. Recently, I’ve been delighted to see new businesses open operations at Langstone Technology Park while on Friday I’ll officially open FatFace’s brand new distribution centre.’

But Portsmouth South’s Labour MP Stephen Morgan said: ‘The Prime Minister needs to take a closer look at the kind of jobs her government is actually creating. Under the Tories, 6m people are in jobs paying less than the living wage; as a result, debt is soaring and inflation is running ahead of pay.

‘The government is using these figures to hide from the fact that workers’ wages are still lower than they were in 2010.

‘We need high-quality, well-paid jobs, such as those under threat at our dockyard, that strengthen our economy and deliver financial security for families - not the low wage, high-debt limbo of the Conservatives’ gig economy. Labour will introduce a living wage of £10 by 2020 and end the in-work poverty that has become a hallmark of this government.’