Essex: unemployment figures described as “shocking”

Essex County Council

Essex County Council - Credit: Essex County Council

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Essex has increased by almost 75 per cent during the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown – figures described as “shocking and staggering”.

In Uttlesford the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 106 per cent – from 650 to 1,345 between March and April.

Other areas also have high figures.

In Chelmsford the number of claimants increased from 2,085 to 3,455 – a rise of 65 per cent. Colchester saw the figure rise by 83 per cent from 2,720 claimants to 4,980.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that 51,660 people from Essex were claiming unemployment benefit this April. It means that an extra 21,995 people were added to the system in a single month – a dramatic increase of 74 per cent from the 29,705 claimants in March. Essex County Councillor Ivan Henderson said: “These are shocking and staggering figures and it’s going to be a mountain to climb for national and local government to deal with this impact. “We are going to have to think outside the box to make sure we give businesses every encouragement we can for them to remain in Essex and every encouragement we can to attract more businesses. At the same time we are going to have to use every resource we have to deal with these massive unemployment figures.”

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Nationally, there were 2.1 million people who were claiming unemployment benefit in April across the UK – up by 67 per cent from 1.3 million in March. It means 5.1 per cent of working age adults are now claimants. The benefit claimant count is a combination of claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and claimants of Universal Credit (UC) who fall within the UC ‘searching for work’ category. It includes some people that are still working a small number of hours and earning a little, but who are claiming UC and are required to look for work as part of that. It also does not include everyone who is out of work, since not everyone is entitled to claim assistance, but it does indicate the trend in the employment market.

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