Job shock for region as unemployment benefit claims rise fast

By Ian Mean Business West Gloucestershire Director
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The devastating impact of coronavirus was painted in depressing human detail today.

Unemployment rate has never been higher since records began 50 years ago and is a reminder of the dark days of the jobs crisis during the John Major government back in 1996.

According to the Office of National Statistics today claims for unemployment benefit in the form of Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit jumped by 856,000 in April.

This takes the so-called claimant count to 2.1 million people – the biggest jump since records began in 1971.

And unemployment in the three months to March increased by 50 000 to 1.35 million.

Following the lockdown in March, there was also a big fall in hours worked-from 33 hours a week in the previous year to 24 hours a week.

This shows the sharpest fall in ten years. Unemployment in the three months to March increased by 50 000 to 1.35 million.

And it was announced today that over 8 million people were on the furlough scheme with wages paid by government.

The worrying factor now is that how many companies which have furloughed employees will be able to afford the contributions which government are going to seek from August.

It is a depressing prospect that many of these firms may have to decide to start making employees redundant if they find they just cannot afford these new contributions.

The Chancellor has promised details of how much companies will need to pay by the end of this month.

The speed of the economy recovery depends on how many of the employees will be able to get back to work with safety paramount in that return.

While it is vital we re-open our economy in safety, vacancy rates are very low generally with the exception of the IT, health and logistics sectors.

The low vacancy rates in most employment sectors are unfortunately a harbinger of worse to come with a big influx of young people from colleges and universities now coming onto the jobs market.

While the government is recognised to have been innovative in its cash help for businesses to survive coronavirus, the spectre of such high,demoralising unemployment is a challenge that must be gripped quickly.


louise bennettBusiness leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire believe the latest unemployment figures highlight the need for continued support for firms beyond lockdown.

Unemployment in the UK jumped to 2.1 million in the month to April as the effects of Coronavirus began to be felt in the economy.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “A rise in unemployment is always a cause for concern but these figures come as no real surprise when you consider the impacts that the Covid-19 outbreak has had.

“It’s fair to say the number would have been much higher had it not been for the furlough scheme which we know has been a huge support to businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire.

“And, even with that, we can expect unemployment to continue to rise when the next figures are released.

“It’s vitally important as the economy begins to restart, and as more and more businesses get back to work, that support remains in place and that the full impact on companies is recognised.

“Businesses which have survived this period will have to rebuild when they come out the other side and that is going to take time.

“Help for companies will need continue and in the short, medium and long term, the Government must create a low tax and supportive environment for firms to eventually grow