Claimant count rises following welfare reform

The number of Wiganers on out-of-work benefits has shot up following the roll-out of the full Universal Credit service.
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Labour market statistics for June show there were 5,755 people in the borough receiving assistance, a seven per cent rise from the same month last year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the increase was largely due to the Universal Credit reforms, which classes a larger number of people than previously as jobseekers.

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However, there was better news among young claimants as the June count of 1,105 Wiganers aged between 18 and 24 was five per cent down on 12 months ago.

Penny Applegate, a DWP partnership manager, said: “Some of the increase will be to do with Universal Credit as we get a wider range of customers on that than we did with previous benefits.

“However, we are confident the roll-out is going smoothly.”

The DWP and Wigan Council has teamed up to re-launch the Landlord’s Association and has also been working with the next generation of employees on public sector traineeship courses at Wigan Youth Zone.

A mixture of work experience and training, it is expected to set young people up for public sector careers.

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Although Universal Credit has caused the claimant count to rise the figures for young jobseekers and the total number of unemployed people remain well below where they were in 2010.

Nationally, the Government is celebrating a record employment rate of 75.7 per cent, with more than 3.3 million more people in a job than in 2010.