New figures show St Helens claimant count rising

A Jobcentre Plus
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A shake-up of how unemployment figures are totted up shows the number of people on out-of-work benefits in St Helens has slightly risen.

The Government has introduced an alternative claimant count since the introduction of Universal Credit meant the totals included many people not actively looking for work or likely to return to employment any time soon.

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The newly-revised count instead compares the new figures to what they would have been had Universal Credit been running since 2013.

And the current picture shows that, as of November 2018, the overall claimant count in St Helens was two per cent higher than 12 months previously.

However, it was not exclusively a negative picture as the total of 18-to-24-year-olds on out-of-work benefits was one per cent lower than it had been the year before.

The five-year change also shows the area returning to work, with drops in the claimant count of 52 per cent across all age groups and 36 per cent for young people since 2013.

Jobs chiefs said the St Helens labour market remained strong, with roles available in sectors including warehousing and production, care, manufacturing and also retail.

A DWP spokesperson said: "I know the trend for retail is not strong but there are some stores opening around the St Helens West Point retail park.

"There are also pharmaceutical companies which are going to be opening at Haydock Green. There is a spread of jobs there across the sectors in St Helens which I think is really good news."

The latest figures show strong overall employment figures, with the UK having a record low rate of 3.9 per cent and the North West as a whole doing better than that at 3.6 per cent.

However, the data has been criticised after it emerged people who were actually only working a handful of hours a week were being included as employed.

It is also currently estimated that, nationally, around one in three people on Universal Credit are receiving financial help on a top-up basis while working.