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Nearly double the amount of Norfolk people on benefits compared to last year

PUBLISHED: 14:38 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 20 May 2020

More than 23,000 people are now on the claimant count. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

More than 23,000 people are now on the claimant count. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Norfolk was nearly double the rate it was a year ago according to figures released this week.

Across Norfolk 23,305 people are now claiming universal credit – 4.4% of the population.

A year ago just 2.4% of the population were claimants, with 12,550 on the register.

The Office for National Statistics revealed today that the national unemployment level stands at 3.9% in April – a month where many people were furloughed or lost their jobs as lockdown took hold.

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Those which are furloughed are included in the 76.7% of employed people, as they are technically still in a job though they are not actively working.

The amount of people claiming benefits also does not directly equal the unemployment rate as some may not be eligible, or choose not to claim.

In Norfolk the district which has the most people claiming benefits is Norwich.

A total of 5,060 people are on the claimant count – 3,150 men and 1,915 women - which is 5.3% of the population and nearly double the rate of last year.

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This is followed by Great Yarmouth with 4,555 people claiming benefits. This district saw the greatest increase in claimants compared to a year ago, with 7.9% of the population now on the count compared to 2.6% last year.

Behind Great Yarmouth is King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, and north Norfolk.

In the former 3,495 people are claiming benefits and in the latter 2,305. This means that in both 4.1% of the population is claiming universal credit.

The lowest percentage is in Broadland at 3% of the population, south Norfolk at 3.2% and Breckland at 3.8%.

In April 2019 no district had higher than 2.8% of their population claiming benefits.

Those on the claimant count are not necessarily all unemployed - with the system also being used to top up the earnings of those on low-income wages.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: “This paints a picture that many of us are familiar with. Through my work with Norwich for Jobs I know the team is doing everything they can to get people back to work or into training.

“The government has announced an unprecedented package so that people can stay in their homes and have food on the table - it is one of the most comprehensive packages in the world.

“What’s important to note is that we are striving to protect people’s livelihoods as well as their lives.”

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: “Not only are we battling a pandemic, but these figures show that we will soon be in the midst of a full-blown employment crisis too. Workers forced for the first time to turn to the state for help for support are finding out just how inadequate the out of work safety net is in the UK. That’s why I’m supporting my party’s calls on the government to make urgent changes to social security to prevent hundreds in our city being forced into hardship.”


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