THERE been a surge in Universal Credit claimants across the county in the past month.
Worst hit has been Redditch, up 326 to 8,570, an increase of four per cent on the same period last month.
Worcester only fared marginally better, up 267 to 8,825, an increase of 3.1 per cent.
Elsewhere Wychavon district saw their claimants increase by 230 to 8,520 up 2.8 per cent, Malvern Hills up 165 to 4,609, a rise of 3.7 per cent and Bromsgrove, up 150 to 5,540, an increase of 2.8 per cent.
Duncan Campbell from the Department of Work and Pensioners acknowledged that the figures were continuing to get bigger ‘across the patch’ but added that the figures included all those claiming some sort of benefit, not just those out of work.
“However we are picking up some of the people who are coming in off being previously furloughed,” he said.
“On the upside we are doing an awful lot of work around people, for instance around the new Kickstart scheme, and the response from employers has been overwhelming and we have been swamped with opportunities.
“There have been 32,000 nationwide and locally there are hundreds of opportunities and not always in the areas you’d expect, but we’re seeing openings in app design and graphic design.”
He added that many firms were slowly gearing up for the new year and the anticipated impact of the Covid vaccine.
“We are doing a lot of online courses and sector based academies to get people to a point where they are in a position to apply for a vacancy.
“There are a number of employers who are not advertising vacancies for fear of being swamped by the response so once we find out where a person’s interests and skills lie we are making speculative approaches and people are getting jobs off the back of it.”