Slight rise in benefit claims across region

Sgt Rob Heard

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THE number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has risen across the area, despite a fall in the national figure.

New data released by the Office for National Statistics showed more people claimed unemployment benefits in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, and Havant, in January than in December last year.

The Jobcentre in Arundel Street, Portsmouth.

The Jobcentre in Arundel Street, Portsmouth.

The biggest local rise was in Portsmouth, with 102 more people claiming benefits in January, taking the total from 3,845 to 3,947.

The figures go against the national trend, which saw the claimant count fall by 125,000.

There was also a record number of women in work, and youth unemployment continues to fall.

Stewart Dunn, the chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said these are the hallmarks of economic recovery.

‘The recent job market figures show there is a record number of women in work and youth unemployment continues to fall – strong indications of an economic recovery,’ he said.

‘The security of a regular wage and being able to plan for the future is becoming a reality for more and more people, especially in the south east where Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants fell by 26 per cent over the last year.

‘However, there are signs of a slowdown in the pace of improvement for the jobs market and everything must be done to prevent the recovery from being stopped in its tracks.’

Mr Dunn has called on Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to bring in further measures to boost growth, including an overhaul of the UK business rates system.

He added: ‘This would help small and medium enterprises to start up and to grow. They are the lifeblood of the recovery we need – a recovery based on investment and not on consumer spending fuelled by more and more

Here are the full unemployment figures for the area:

n Portsmouth: January 2014 (3,947); December 2013 (3,845).

n Fareham: January 2014 (784); December 2013 (753).

n Gosport: January 2014 (1,099); December 2013 (1,074).

n Havant: January 2014 (1,929); December 2013 (1,855).