THE number of people claiming government benefit in Redditch – including those on furlough and those self employed – has soared by 28.3 per cent – 1,731 people to 7,845 in just one month.
The figures, published by the Department of Work and Pensions for between April 9 and May 14, put the town more than six percentage points higher than the regional average of 22.2 per cent and more than three percentage points higher than the national average.
Duncan Campbell from the DWP said the town and Worcestershire at large had been disproportionately hit due to its reliance on the hospitality and tourism industries but added that before Covid-19 it had extremely high employment levels.
He added that it was simply unknown how many of those furloughed and working for themselves would return to employment.
“The 80 per cent of salary scheme runs out at the end of August and then reduces to a lower percentage point and that will be the crunch point,” he said.
Residents of Wychavon have also been hit, rising by 1,660 to 7,788 – a 27.1 per cent increase in claimants.
Malvern saw an increase of 849, a rise of 25.2 per cent to 4,222 while Bromsgrove suffered a 22.4 per cent increase of 957 to 5,227.
Mr Campbell added that despite the high figures employers were starting to recruit again with vacancies in particular coming in for the HS2 terminal at Curzon Street in Birmingham, the Commonwealth Games and for the 2021 national census.
A major fibre delivery company was also recruiting while local farmers would also be requiring seasonal workers.