Unemployment benefit claims well above regional average

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Statistics from the ONS showed that 9,440 people in Peterborough are claiming out-of-work benefits

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the rate of unemployment hit 5.1% between October and December – up from 5% in the previous quarter and its highest since early 2016.

Overall, unemployment stood at 1.7million between October and December - up 454,000 over the year, marking the biggest annual increase since the 2008 financial crisis.

In Peterborough, the proportion of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit with a requirement to search for work, as of January, was 7.6%. The majority of the 9,440 claimants are aged 25 to 29, although 1,800 are between 18 and 24, and 1,970 are over 50.

At the beginning of March 2020, figures showed that 3.8% of the working-age population in Peterborough were claiming out-of-work benefits.

Statistics from the ONS showed that 5.3% of people in the East of England were claimants, compared to 6.3% in England as a whole.

Across the rest of Cambridgeshire, 3.8% of people are claiming JSA or Universal Credit with a requirement to search for work.

The furlough scheme is widely seen as cushioning the economic blow of the pandemic, but there are fears that its withdrawal at the end of March could cause more unemployment.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged to set out his job support plans in next week’s budget to ease pressure on sectors which will have to wait to reopen.

Mr Sunak said: "I know how incredibly tough the past year has been for everyone, and every job lost is a personal tragedy.

"At the Budget next week I will set out the next stage of our Plan for Jobs, and the support we’ll provide through the remainder of the pandemic and our recovery."