Sunderland jobless claimant count rises as Universal Credit roll-out continues

The Sunderland out-of-work claimant count has risen sharply in the last year
The Sunderland out-of-work claimant count has risen sharply in the last year

The number of people classed as receiving out-of-work benefits in Sunderland has jumped sharply over the last year, as the roll-out of Universal Credit continues.

The new consolidated benefit requires more claimants to look for work than under Jobseeker's Allowance.

Paul Carbert

Paul Carbert

The number of claimants in the city jumped by 2,295 between March 2018 and last month, to 8,245, and was up by 380 from February.

Across the North East, employment stands at 1,198,000 or 71% - a fall of 11,000 over the quarter and 29,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 76.1% nationally.

North East unemployment is 71,000 or 5.6% - an increase of 1,000 over the quarter and 9,000 over the year, and compared to a rate of 3.9% nationally.

The claimant count stands at 69,500 or 5.5% in the North East. The national claimant count rate is 3%.

North East England Chamber of Commerce Policy Adviser Paul Carbert said: "As a snapshot of the current state of the labour market in the North East, the employment statistics released this morning do not make for positive reading.

"The North East has the lowest employment rate and highest unemployment rate of any region. The gap between the employment rate in the North East and the national average has doubled over the past year, and the employment rate in the South West, the best-performing region, is now nine percentage points higher than the rate in the North East.

"In the most recent Quarterly Economic Survey conducted by the Chamber, members reported a marked slowdown in sales and orders, particularly for exporters, and a fall in confidence about current workforce levels.

"We frequently hear from members that uncertainty over Brexit is delaying investment and hiring decisions for their businesses and their customers, and the ongoing political impasse is not helping matters.

"The Government should now listen to the concerns raised by our members and focus on measures to reduce the costs for businesses to recruit and train staff."