County sees drop in claimant numbers across the board

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The amount of people claiming benefits across Lincolnshire has seen a reduction across the board, according to the latest figures released today (Wednesday).

According to Government figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions, nationally unemployment has dropped to 5.5 per cent, meaning that employment across the UK has reached an all-time high of 73.5 per cent.

A spokesman said that, over the last year employment growth has outstripped every other major economy.

Closer to home, Becky Newborough, the Department for Work and Pension’s senior operations leader for Lincolnshire and Rutland, said Boston’s claimant count had seen a reduction year-on-year of 23 per cent to 838, 230 of which were youth claimants aged between 18-24 – a reduction of 25.8 per cent.

She attributed this reduction to Boston Job Centre’s work with local firms to create ‘sector-based academies’ as well as partnerships with groups such as Shaw Trust, Boston College, A4E, and Taylor ITEX, set up to help people on Employment Support Allowance to find jobs and get ‘up-skilled’.

In Skegness, the claimant count currently stands at 854, a reduction year-on-year of 41.9 per cent. Youth claimants account for 215 of those, equalling a reduction of 44.2 per cent.

Ms Newborough said this was part of an annual pattern, which occurred as ‘the season kicked in’, adding: “We’ve had Easter, we’ve had spring Bank Holidays - this is a pattern year-on-year.

“Other places such as Louth and Boston also work as feeders into the local area, with seasonal jobs providing for all those places.”

In Sleaford, the claimant count was 296, a reduction of 43.1 per cent year on year, with 95 of those being youth claimants - a reduction of 45 per cent.

Ms Newborough said: “In Sleaford, the job centre has been co-located with the local authority so they have done lots more closer working with that.”

She said there were developments taking place such as the Renewables Energy Plant - but said she couldn’t be sure of the impact of that on the local area.

In Spalding, there were 706 claimants, a reduction of 30.9 per cent including 180 youths at 34.5 per cent decrease.

Similar to Boston, Ms Newborough attributed this to closer working with large firms.

She said: “Boston and Spalding tend to have a lot of agricultural employers around leading again to work academies and partnerships with business such as Bakkavor.”

She said they tended to try to bring employers into the Job Centre and allow them to use facilities for assessments and interviews.

Louth’s figures had also reduced by 36 per cent to 326, with youth figures standing at 85 – a reduction of 41.4 per cent.

Ms Newborough said: “Louth is a market town, which hasn’t seen any major, major employers go in there, but we have seen more vacancies appear, especially with the seasonal upturn.”

She reiterated that Louth and others did feed into coastal season work as well, and pointed out that many would be waiting for Premier Inn to ‘get the go ahead’.

“That will make a massive difference, it’s more jobs and will bring in more tourism for the economy.”

According to the national report, the Government has seen ‘remarkable success’ in supporting people coming off benefits and into work.

It said the number of people claiming the main out-of-work benefits has fallen by one million since 2010.

Long-term unemployment has also seen the largest annual fall in 17 years, supported by the Work Programme - the biggest single payment by results employment programme Britain has ever seen.

The number of vacancies in the economy is now well over 700,000 at any one time across the UK.

Employment minister Priti Patel, said: “Our long-term economic plan is creating a better, more prosperous future for Britain, with employment at an all-time high and more women in work than ever before. Behind the statistics are countless stories of individual hard work and determination – of people feeling more financially secure with a regular wage.

“I want to continue to ensure our welfare reforms are giving people the skills and opportunities to move into work to give everyone in our country the chance to make the most of their lives.”

This week the Government announced it would be bringing in new measures to support a further two million rise in employment, including requiring young people to take part in training or work placements, increasing free childcare, reducing the benefit cap to £23,000 to ensure people are always better off in work.