Claimant count more than doubles across counties

Job Centre Plus, Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Claimant counts across Suffolk and Essex have rocketed up this year - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The number of people claiming out of work or in-work benefits across Suffolk and Essex has more than doubled amid the coronavirus crisis, official figures reveal.

Across the UK, 2.6million people were claiming state benefits on November 12, compared to under 1.2m in November of 2019 – a 120% increase, Office for National Statistics (ONS) claimant count figures — which are not seasonally adjusted — show.

In Suffolk, there were 22,560 claimants last month — 12,225 more than last year, and  a 118% rise.

These include those out of work and those with very low pay and/or working few hours after the government brought benefits under the new Universal Credit umbrella.

Essex saw an even more marked increase of 157% in claimants, as the figure rocketed from 19,845 a year ago to 50,915.

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There were big differences across Suffolk’s districts, with Mid Suffolk recording the lowest claimant as a percentage of the working population at 3.6% and Ipswich showing the highest at 7.3%.

Babergh recorded 2,535 claimants, up 1,615 (5.1% of workers), East Suffolk had 7,030 (4.9%), up 3,445, and Ipswich had 6,235 (7.3%) up 3,230.
Mid Suffolk had 2,220 claimants (3.6%), up 1,305 and West Suffolk had 4,540 (4.3%), up 2,630.

In Essex, Tendring and Harlow had the biggest proportion of claimants at 8% of the working population.

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Braintree recorded 4,810 (5.2%) claimants, up 2,925 on the same month last year.

Colchester had 6,190 (5%), up 3,770, Tendring had 6,315, up 3,075, Uttlesford 2,120 (3.8%), up 1,530, and Maldon 1,815 (5.6%), up 1,200.

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