South Tyneside jobless claimant count rises as Universal Credit roll-out continues

The number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in South Tyneside has jumped over the year as the introduction of Universal Credit continued.
The latest North East employment figures have been releasedThe latest North East employment figures have been released
The latest North East employment figures have been released

The new benefit requires a broader span of claimants to look for work than Jobseeker's Allowance did.

There were 5,655 people classed as receiving out-of-work benefits in the borough last month, a fall of 25 on April but up by 1,215 year-on-year.

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Across the North East,  1,200,000 people – or 70.7% are in work, a fall of 20,000 over the quarter and 26,000 over the year, while unemployment is 72,000, an increase of 7,000 over the quarter and 13,000 over the year.

Steve McCall, of JobCentre Plus, admitted the figures were disappointing, but said there was still a wide range of vacancies available.

“HMRC, Go North East and Subway have been recruiting across the region, so we are still seeing jobs being created.”

North East LEP Senior Economist Victoria Sutherland said: “It’s very disappointing to see the number of people across the North East in employment has fallen.

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“There has been a particularly sharp decrease in the last three months.

“Whilst it is unclear what is underpinning these negative trends, there is significant uncertainty within the economy which is depressing investment and this is likely to be a key factor. It is critically important for the North East economy that the UK government seeks to resolve this uncertainty.”

North East England Chamber of Commerce Policy Adviser Paul Carbert added: “Employment has fallen in the North East from the record high reached last year, against a national trend of rising employment. The difference between the employment rate in the North East and the national average is  at its highest point since 2015.

“Our members tell us  they are struggling to recruit staff with the right technical skills, which suggests a need for a stronger focus on retraining and upskilling programmes.

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“With the Government  focused on a party leadership contest, we want to see all of the candidates acknowledge the need for a regional approach to skills and training, and give the North East the powers and resources necessary to tackle this.”