Thousands claim benefits

MORE than 11,000 Ipswich people are today claiming government benefits because they are either unfit for work, caring for another or are unable to find a job.

MORE than 11,000 Ipswich people are today claiming government benefits because they are either unfit for work, caring for another or are unable to find a job.

Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics reveal that 15.2per cent of the town's population are claiming some form of benefit, from job seekers' allowance to incapacity benefits and lone parent allowances.

The news comes as the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that 178,530 people in the eastern region were claiming sickness benefits when the latest figures were recorded.

Today The Evening Star can reveal that of Ipswich's population of 120,400, 3.1pc - or 2,348 people - are claiming job seekers' allowance (JSA).

Ipswich ranked well above the regional average, which had 1.7pc claiming JSA, and the national average of 2.3pc.

Of those 2,348, 270 people had been claiming JSA for more than a year.

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Incapacity benefits ranked as the most common form of benefits being claimed. Of the 11,350 people claiming benefits, 4,990 people were claiming sickness benefits because they were unfit to work.

Nationally, sickness benefit is costing taxpayers more than £142million every week.

There were 1,740 lone parents receiving assistance from the government, while another 850 received disability allowance and 950 were listed as carers.

Addressing the issue of the number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the government had a range of meas-ures in place to help people back into work.

She said: “Jobcentre Plus brings together employment and benefit services for people of working age. These include Personal Advisers who provide practical support and advice on training provision and benefits guidance.

“Job search facilities are available through Jobpoints, over the phone and through our website.”

What do you think of the benefits system? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarlet-ters@eveningstar.co.uk

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