Hartlepool out-of-work claimant count jumps by 41% in first month of lockdown

The number of people classed as looking for work in Hartlepool jumped by almost half in the first month of the coronavirus lockdown.
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The latest figures from the office for National Statistics show there were 4,915 people claiming out of work benefits, in the form of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, in the town in April, the first full month of lockdown – a rise of 41 per cent on March’s 3,465.

Across the North East, the claimant count for April was 112,800, a monthly rise of 39,400 – more than a third .

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The figures are in stark contrast to the latest employment data, which covers a period from January to March – before the lockdown – and shows employment in the region had risen by 28,000 over the quarter, while the number of people classed as unemployed was down by 7,000.

Out of work benefits claims jumped by almost half in Sunderland in the first month of lockdownOut of work benefits claims jumped by almost half in Sunderland in the first month of lockdown
Out of work benefits claims jumped by almost half in Sunderland in the first month of lockdown

JobCentre Plus’ Steve McCall said the quarterly figure covered a period in which employment normally rose, as holiday firms and leisure companies geared up for the busy summer season: “But these are the sectors hardest hit,” he said.

“It is absolutely a different world now.”

There were still jobs out there, however: “We are seeing a lot of social care jobs, we are seeing a lot of contact centre jobs for things like the Student Loan Company, and security guard and cleaners’ jobs as premises are gearing up to open again in a new world."

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North East England Chamber of Commerce assistant director of policy Jonathan Walker said: “The stark increase in claimant count shows how severe the impact of Covid 19 has been, and continues to be, on our North East employment landscape. While we wait for this to come through in the unemployment data, we must brace ourselves for worse figures in the coming months.

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“The Government’s furlough scheme has been a lifeline as this data would have been far worse without that support.  We believe it is essential for the future of many of our regional businesses that the scheme is unwound slowly and carefully. 

“There must be continuous dialogue between Government and the region’s business community to ensure further support where it is needed, to protect precious jobs.”

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