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Hartlepool remains highest nationwide for jobless benefit claims

Job Centre Plus. Picture by FRANK REID
Job Centre Plus. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool contnues to have the highest proportion of jobless benefits claimants in the country, according to the latest figures.

Government figures show that Hartlepool still tops the national table despite a fall of 290 claimants in the town between April and May.

Figures show that 4,370 claimed jobless benefit in Hartlepool in April, compared to 4,080 in May.

The figure for May accounts for 7.1% of claimants in the town, which is the highhest nationally, but down from 7.6% in April. The latest average for the North East is 3.6% and 2.2% nationally.

The Easington constituency had 2,605 claimants in May, compared to 2,695 in April, and the Stockton North constituency, which takes in Billingham, Wolviston and Wynyard, had 2,325 claimants in May, compared to 2,340 in April.

The Sedgefield constituency saw 1,545 claimants in April, the same it has stood at for the last three months.

Hartlepool was been one of the first areas in the country to go over to Universal Credit Full Service - which includes people who are in low-income work and would previously have been claiming Working Families Tax Credit - as well as those looking for a job.

This is believed to have had an impact in the town

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said previously: “Clearly this is not an acceptable position to be in, despite the fact that the figures remain skewed by the reality that Universal Credit puts a wider range of people into the out of work category; including the disabled and chronically ill.”

North East unemployment stands at 59,000 or 4.6% - a fall of 8,000 over the quarter and 11,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 4.2% nationally.

The claimant count stands at 59,500 or 4.9% in the North East. The national claimant count rate is 2.5%.

Paul Carbert, policy adviser, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said the recent trend of positive news for the North East labour market, adding: “Between February and April 2018, the unemployment rate in the North East fell below 5% for the first time. The number of people out of work in our region is down by 11,000 over the same period last year, and is now at half the level of four years ago. Despite this, we are concerned that the number of apprenticeship starts and the number of workplaces employing apprentices has fallen in the North East since the introduction of the apprenticeship reforms in April 2017. We have called on the Government to reform the apprenticeship system and allow businesses greater flexibility to access funding.”