Jobless numbers down but MPs question work divide

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The number of Fylde coast people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance fell between February and March.

Total JSA claimants in the Blackpool North and Cleveleys parliamentary constituency dropped from 2,234 to 2,148 - 4.3 per cent of the working age population.

The number fell from 3,151 to 2,960 in Blackpool South, 5.8 per cent of those of working age.

The number of young people claiming JSA in both constituencies had risen for a fourth consecutive month in February, but this time the numbers fell.

In Blackpool North and Cleveleys the figure for 18-24-year-old claimants fell from 510 to 460 - 21.4 per cent of all claimants, while in Blackpool South the figure went down from 765 to 705, 23.8 per cent of claimants.

The number of people claiming for more than a year also fell, from 640 to 605 in Blackpool North and Cleveleys and from 825 to 795 in Blackpool South, but in both areas more than a quarter of all claimants fell into this category of being long-term unemployed. The claimant count for people claiming JSA for between six and 12 months increased, from 285 to 315 in Blackpool North and Cleveleys and from 410 to 420 in Blackpool South.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, Paul Maynard, said: “I am pleased that unemployment continues to move in the right direction in the constituency, with drops in both overall JSA claimants, and those aged 18-24.

“Progress is always welcome, but numbers will always be too high as long as anyone who wants to work struggles to find that work.

“That’s why we need to keep focusing on the infrastructure we need to attract investment, and developing the skills base we need to attract those better-paid jobs that will improve our overall economic health locally.

“That’s my focus, and what I will keep working on”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, said: “There is very little change from the previous month and the rate at which long term unemployment has been coming down has slowed.

“Youth unemployment has come down a bit but the overall position with nearly a quarter being aged 18-24, is not being addressed.

“I’ve been to two events involving young people recently and the message coming across loud and clear is that they are finding it very difficult to get decent jobs and when they do they are not necessarily full-time.

“The JSA figures do not show part-time jobs and they do not show people on zero hours contracts.”

Mr Marsden said that while new figures showed that UK average weekly pay increased at a rate of 1.7 per cent, on a par with inflation for the first time in six years, the recovery was happening less quickly in the North than in the South, where he said Government funding cuts had in many cases not been so severe.

The most recent North West figures, for October-December 2013, show that average full-time wages were static year on year at £499 per week.

In Fylde, the number of JSA claimants fell from 1,021 to 947, while in Lancaster and Fleetwood the claimant count fell from 1,312 to 1,252.