Virus puts one in ten on benefits in South Tyneside

Almost one in ten working-age people in South Tyneside are claiming unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus crisis, new figures show.

One in ten working age people in South Tyneside are now on benefits
One in ten working age people in South Tyneside are now on benefits

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 8,785 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in the borough as of September 10 – compared to 5,810 in early March.

That figure represents 9.4% of the working-age population, up from 6.2%.

The figures include those aged between 16 and 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

Despite still being much higher than pre-crisis levels, the number of people getting help in South Tyneside was lower than at the start of August, when there were 8,940 claimants.

National figures show the claimant count rose by one per cent to 2.7 million in September compared to the previous month - more than double the number recorded in March.

Separate ONS data shows UK unemployment rose by 138,000 to 1.52 million in the three months to August compared to the previous quarter – the highest since the start of 2017.

This saw the rate of unemployment jump to 4.5%, from 4.1% in the previous three months.

Redundancies also rose by a record 114,000 to 227,000.

Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the Government must act quickly to stop a wave of unemployment across the UK, including by extending increased help for benefits claimants.

Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at the Foundation, said the figures were "a stark reminder that this crisis still has a long way to run".

She added: "This is not the time for half measures. The Government can still act quickly and decisively to prevent a wave of unemployment that will hit the poorest hardest."

Ms McDonald said the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit – introduced in April – should be made permanent.

A new Job Support Scheme would be expanded to businesses required to shut down due to coronavirus restrictions, with two-thirds of employees' wages covered by the Treasury.

In areas where lockdowns do not apply, employers will have to pay for time worked by their employees, which must be at least 33% of their usual hours.

The plans replace the furlough scheme from October 31.