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Coronavirus impact on Norfolk jobs revealed by unemployment figures

PUBLISHED: 17:03 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:11 15 September 2020

The number of claimants in Norfolk has increased by more than 10,000 over the past 12 months. Pic: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The number of claimants in Norfolk has increased by more than 10,000 over the past 12 months. Pic: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The impact of coronavirus on jobs in Norfolk has been laid bare, as new figures showed the number of unemployed people claiming benefits in the county has increased by more than 11,000 in 12 months.

Nova Fairbank, of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography.Nova Fairbank, of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography.

And the impact on younger people is stark, with the number of 18 to 24-year-old claimants having almost doubled since lockdown in March, from 3,180 claimants to 6,245 as of August.

New Office for National Statistics figures show that the overall claimant count in Norfolk as of mid August was 28,710, up on 17,364 at the same period in 2019.

The biggest rate increase was in Great Yarmouth, where 8.5pc of the population were claiming unemployment, compared to 3.8pc the previous August.

There were 4,875 claimants in the seaside town, compared to 2,165 in August last year, with the number of 18 to 24-year-olds looking for work up from 620 in March to 960 in August.

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North. Picture: Neil DidsburyChloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North. Picture: Neil Didsbury

In Norwich North, the claimant rate increased from 3.8pc to 6.1pc, with 3,485 claimants compared to 2,115 a year ago. The number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming went up from 350 in March to 685 in August.

In Norwich South, there were 4,370 claimants, up from 2,525 the previous year, with the rate up from 3.5pc to 6.1pc. There were 965 claimants aged 18 to 24, up on the 470 in March.

The lowest Norfolk rates were Broadland (4.1pc, up on 2.9pc last year) and Mid Norfolk (also 4.1pc, up on 2.6pc last year), while in Waveney, the rate went up from 3.1pc to 7pc.

Apart from Yarmouth and Waveney, all parliamentary constituencies remained below the 5.7pc rate for the East and the 6.5pc claimant rate for the United Kingdom as a whole.

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Nova Fairbank, head of policy, governance and public affairs at Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said: “This is to be expected as the furlough scheme starts to wind down, but we are looking to the government as to how they support people, and young people particularly.

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“The Kickstarter scheme is a good start and is something which the chamber is very happy to support businesses with.

“We have members who have been having a very challenging time. It is difficult, but we are trying to support them as best we can.”

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said the figures for her constituency remained below the national rates, but that the figures were concerning.

She said: “Today’s jobs figures are worrying, including for young people looking for work. That’s why the chancellor has acted.”

She encouraged companies to join the Norwich For Jobs project she has been involved with.

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The ONS said the rate of unemployment increased as another 36,000 jobs fell off payrolls across the country.

Meanwhile, unemployment increased by 62,000 to 1.4 million for the three months to July.

It said the rate of unemployment therefore increased to 4.1pc - the first time the jobless rate has increased since the pandemic spread across the UK.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, speaking in the Commons today, said he has acted in “creative” ways throughout the pandemic to support jobs and will “continue to do so”.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Unemployment will continue to rise unless the government acts now and adopts a more flexible approach targeted at the sectors that need it most.”

Young people in Norfolk have this week described the “confidence shattering” process of job hunting during the coronavirus pandemic amid fears over a lack of future opportunities.

Figures released by the Institute for Public Policy Research predict that more than one million under-25s will be unemployed in the UK by the end of the year - the highest number on record.


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