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Jobs chiefs' praise for benefits changes in Wigan

Jobcentre Plus officials say the roll-out of universal credit has gone smoothly
Jobcentre Plus officials say the roll-out of universal credit has gone smoothly

Employment chiefs have praised the smooth roll-out of universal credit in Wigan, saying it has had little impact on the borough’s jobs market.

The latest labour statistics show the figure of 5,625 Wiganers on out-of-work benefits in May was a three per cent rise from this time 12 months ago but a slight decrease from the total in April.

Analysis of the month-by-month figures also show that while the number of claimants in Wigan has risen this year the switch to universal credit has not produced the large hike in people needing assistance some had feared.

Jobcentre Plus has praised good partnership working and said a long preparation period had also helped with the benefits transition.

It also said there is an opportunity tomorrow for Wiganers to find their next job and more employers arriving on the horizon.

Penny Applegate, Jobcentre Plus partnership manager, said: “We feel the universal credit rollout has gone very smoothly.

“We’ve been working in very close co-operation with the council, bringing people together, getting support and finding them jobs.

“We’ve got an adult social care jobs fair at Wigan Life Centre and Amazon is coming to Logistics North.

"They are going to have a lot of full-time jobs there and we can offer help to anyone struggling to fill out the application forms on the company’s website.

“The picture in Wigan is good. It is still fairly early days for Universal Credit but we’re pleased with the slow incremental changes in the jobs figures we’ve seen.”

The May statistics showed there were 3,515 men and 2,110 women in Wigan claiming out-of-work benefits.

There were also 1,105 jobseekers in the 18-to-24-year-old age bracket, which is a slight decrease from the same time last year and also a drop of 100 from the figure in April.

The adult social care jobs fair is at the Wigan Life Centre tomorrow and runs from 10am until 1pm.