The independent London newspaper

Unemployment levels soaring in Westminster North

Numbers of young people claiming universal credit has quadrupled since Covid

19 September, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Not just West End affected by crisis 

UNEMPLOYMENT levels are continuing to rocket despite lockdown ending, new figures show.

Statistics from the House of Commons Library reveal that in Westminster North 5,885 residents are claiming unemployment-related benefits – up from 3,695 since March 15.

The number of young people aged 18 to 24 registering for benefits in the constituency is four times higher than in March – at 870.

The figures come as councillors pleaded for City Hall not to focus all its attention on the “existential crisis” in the West End and to help struggling residents in the north of the borough.

Labour politicians are appealing for the government to extend its furlough scheme beyond October 31.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, told Extra: “Unemployment is a devastating experience for those affected and mass unemployment is shattering for the economy. The government did the right thing with the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed, although many people still fall between the gaps in those schemes.

“What they can’t do is simply withdraw support from sectors that have not yet had a chance to recover – retail, arts and entertainment, hospitality – so that the end of furlough tips workers straight into unemployment, and potentially into debt and even homelessness.

“That’s why we are arguing, among other things, for targeted, sector-by-sector, continuation of the furlough scheme.”

Employers wanting to make more than 100 redundancies have to notify the government by next week. Employment is already lower than before the 2008 financial crash.

The Trades Union Congress has warned of a “crisis of mass unemployment” without more government action.

The House of Commons Library research service provides MPs and their staff with regular impartial briefings.

Its briefing this week included a report on the number of people who were claiming unemployment-related benefits, including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit in August.

Its advisory note to Ms Buck said the report “does give a measure of how the number of claimants has changed in response to the coronavirus pandemic”.

In Cities of London and Westminster constituency, the total number of residents claiming the benefits is 4,275 – up from 2,580.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said it is “not right to endlessly extend the furlough” and the government would find “interesting, creative, innovative, and effective new ways to support local employment”. A government spokes – man added: “Supporting jobs is an absolute priority which is why we’ve set out a comprehensive ‘Plan for Jobs’ to protect, create and support jobs across the UK by providing significant, targeted, support where it is needed the most.”

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