More St Helens residents claiming benefits but jobs bosses say market buoyant

A Jobcentre Plus
A Jobcentre Plus

The out-of-work benefits claimant count in St Helens has risen but employment chiefs say the jobs market remains buoyant.

The latest quarterly figures say there were 4,390 people needing some form of financial assistant, a seven per cent rise from a year ago but down 34 per cent on the total five years previously.

Other news: Nearly half of parents in St Helens fail to pay child maintenance under Government scheme

The jobs figures have recently been adjusted to allow for the full roll-out of Universal Credit, with statistics now showing what it is believed the claimant count would have been had the revised benefits package been in place the entire time.

However, the Jobcentre Plus says the spike in claimants does not suggest there are problems with the labour market in St Helens.

Jobcentre Plus spokeswoman Gemma Batchelor said: "It is a very positive picture, both because of the long-term trend and because the North West has its joint-lowest unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent.

"The market in St Helens does feel buoyant in terms of the number of vacancies we are working to fill and the sectors that are recruiting."

Unlike in other areas of the country retail is providing a stream of employment opportunities in St Helens.

The Jobcentre Plus helped to fill 30 vacancies at the new Marks and Spencer store in St Helens and has also worked with Superbowl and Home Bargains in the town.

The latter held a guaranteed interview scheme for Jobcentre Plus clients, eventually making 52 job offers and speaking very highly of the candidates looking for work.

Other job opportunities are in sectors including warehousing, production and logistics, with the Jobcentre Plus working on filling roles at the upcoming Amazon site at Haydock Green, and in hairdressing.