More than 5,500 people claiming jobless benefit in South Tyneside as Universal Credit roll out continues

South Shields Job Centre Plus
South Shields Job Centre Plus

The number of people receiving out of work benefits in South Tyneside has jumped sharply over the last year after the roll out of Universal Credit.

It comes as the new benefit requires a broader range of claimants to look for work than Jobseeker’s Allowance did.

Whilst these are positive results, there continues to be significant uncertainty in the economy making planning for the future challenging for businesses.

Victoria Sutherland

The number of people classed as actively seeking employment in the borough jumped by 1,195 between February 2018 and February this year, from 4,345 to 5,540.

Across the North East unemployment stood at 65,000 between November and January, down 4,000, and 5.1% of the working age population.

Steve McCall, from Jobcentre Plus, said hospitality was particularly busy with recruitment.

“We have entered the Easter recruitment period. We are looking at very substantial interest from the hospitality sector, there is a lot going on there,” he said.

“We have a lot of callcentre and retail jobs around at the moment and there has also been an increase in government department recruitment.

“We have got a fair number of manufacturing posts and also a lot of driving jobs across Sunderland and South Tyneside, especially bus driving.

“And we are working with a lot of employers to provide opportunities for jobseekers to get their faces in front of them, rather than having to apply online or over the phone.”

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) senior economist Victoria Sutherland gave her reaction to the regional labour market statistics.

“We are pleased to see the statistics have positive news for the North East,” she said.

“Across the region, employment has increased by 7,000 over the quarter. Unemployment has fallen by 4,000 over the same period. This decline means the unemployment rate is now 5.1%, compared to 5.4% three months ago.

“The statistics are particularly welcome as they suggest that the increases in unemployment and decreases in employment we saw in mid-2018 are being reversed.

“Whilst these are positive results, there continues to be significant uncertainty in the economy making planning for the future challenging for businesses.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to support businesses to grow and deliver more and better jobs for the region.”