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Suffolk and Essex jobless numbers soar amid fears unemployment will rocket as furlough ends

PUBLISHED: 11:47 13 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:23 13 October 2020

Dole figures have risen hugely in the last year across Suffolk and Essex, new figures reveal  Picture: DANNY LAWSON

Dole figures have risen hugely in the last year across Suffolk and Essex, new figures reveal Picture: DANNY LAWSON

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Suffolk’s unemployment numbers have soared, with more than 23,000 people now out of work and claiming benefits compared to 13,000 a year ago – and Ipswich taking an even bigger hit than other districts, new figures reveal.

As national jobless rates continue to climb amid the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) regional and local figures from September 10, 2020 – which aren’t seasonally adjusted – are also showing steep rises, with the proportion of those out of work in Suffolk sitting at 5.2% of the working population.

This compares with more than 53,000 out of work and claiming in Essex – 5.9% of the working age population compared to 3.85 in 2019 – and just over 28,000 in Norfolk – or 5.3% of workers compared to 3.1% last year. The Suffolk increase is nearly 75% up from the same time last year, using an ONS “experimental formula”.

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The ONS does point out, however, that as under Universal Credit a broader span of workers is required to seek work than under Jobseekers’ Allowance the claimant count is likely to rise as the new system is rolled out.

Across the East of England, nearly 215,000 people are out of work – which equates to 5.7% of the population – compared to under 135,000 a year ago, the figures show.

Across Suffolk, local authorities have all recorded big year-on-year increases, with Ipswich’s at 6,285 claimants in September representing 7.3% of the working population.

Babergh’s claimant count was 2,590 (5% of the working population), East Suffolk 7,225 (5.2%), Mid Suffolk 2,350 (3.9%) and West Suffolk 4,770 (4.5%).

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In Essex, Braintree had 5,060 claimants (5.5%), Colchester 6,570 (5.3%), Maldon 1,925 (5.1%), Tendring 6,490 (8.2%) and Uttlesford 2,255 (4.1%). Year-on-year, Essex saw a 55% rise in claimants, while Norfolk saw a 68% increase year-on-year.

In Suffolk, Babergh’s claimants rose by 51% in the year from 1,715, East Suffolk’s went up 86% from 3,870 in 2019, Mid Suffolk’s increased by 57% from 1,495, and West Suffolk’s climbed 65% from 2,880. Meanwhile, Ipswich saw its claimant count soar by 88% from 3,345.

Using separate statistics, the ONS said UK unemployment rose by 138,000 quarter on quarter to 1.52 million in the three months to August - the highest since the start of 2017 while the number of UK workers on company payrolls fell by 673,000 between March and September, despite edging up by 20,000 last month.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “Since the start of the pandemic there has been a sharp increase in those out of work and job-hunting but more people telling us they are not actively looking for work. There has also been a stark rise in the number of people who have recently been made redundant.”

Experts warned that unemployment will continue to rise as the government’s furlough programme comes to an end.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government was trying to protect as many jobs as possible.

“I’ve been honest with people from the start that we would unfortunately not be able to save every job,” he said.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “The Job Support Scheme will do little to hold back the tide of redundancies. We continue to expect the headline rate of unemployment to shoot up over the coming months.”


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