South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne said the government’s support systems were proving vital, as the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in South Shropshire rose steeply in April.
The number of people in South Shropshire claiming Jobseekers Allowance, or on Universal Credit and required to seek work, doubled between March and April, as the impact of the COVID19 pandemic took hold on the local economy. In South Shropshire, 3.9% of the population aged 16-64 are claiming unemployment benefits, compared to 5.1% across the UK.
Mr Dunne said: “Every job loss is a calamity for the individual and a cause of concern for us all. This is why the Government introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to help keep jobs open for as many people as possible, while the unprecedented restrictions are in place to combat this wretched virus.
So today’s figures for South Shropshire are deeply regrettable, if not wholly surprising. There are fewer people as a proportion of the working age population claiming unemployment here than the average across the country, though this is scant consolation for those having to claim, many for the first time in their lives.
As the infection rate of COVID falls, and as rapid development of contact tracing technology, antibody tests, potential treatments and vaccines all make progress, we can begin to take the small incremental steps to begin to emerge from this paralysis of much of the economy. As this happens, I am hopeful that the measures taken by the Government to preserve jobs and businesses will allow a bounce back of economic activity over coming months.”
Mr Dunne also said the rollout of Universal Credit had been vital in getting support to those who need it, commenting:
“Universal Credit has been instrumental in ensuring the swift payment of support during a massive increase in the number of claimants right across the country. The previous system would simply not have coped. I am also pleased the government have increased both the Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element by £1,000 per year for the next 12 months. This equates to an additional £86.67 per month, on top of the planned annual uprating.”