Figures show unemployment drop in Lancaster

Job Centre Plus. Picture by FRANK REID
Job Centre Plus. Picture by FRANK REID

Unemployment has fallen by over 20 per cent in the Lancaster district, according to new government figures.

The number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in May was 1,615 - down 432 compared to the same time last year.

This equates to a 21 per cent drop in claims over the past year.

Detailed figures showing whether jobs taken were full time, part time, or apprenticeships, were not available.

Dianne Ashton, employer and partnership manager at Lancaster Job Centre, said the figures were “very positive”.

She also said she supported the government’s new Universal Credit system, adding that it offered more support for job seekers and the unemployed.

She said: “The numbers are continuing to drop and this is really good for the county.

“Our job is not getting easier however, we still need to help those people who need that little bit more help to get into work.

“Yesterday, for example, we had 15 of our customers starting on the FIA security badge.

“We’re focussing on ‘upskilling’ people, and, for example, arrange fork-lift truck driving courses for people.

“With the advent of Universal Credit, people can stay on it for six months.

“If someone was on JSA they would be signed off it once they were doing more than 16 hours a week.

“But it’s different with Universal Credit. It’s on a sliding scale, so the more wages someone gets, the less Universal Credit they’re entitled to.

“In this way they’re not just dropped off and left to their own devices.

“We’ve had some very positive responses to Universal Credit. Now we can still continue to support people, and the support system is still there.

“I’m a supporter of Universal Credit and it’s the general feeling amongst staff.

“Things take time to bed in, but the more people that come on to it, the easier it gets.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, also welcomed the figures.

He said: “It is fantastic that the long term economic plan is working in Morecambe and Lunesdale.

“The number of people who are unemployed is continuing to fall and it is in part due to the hard work of the staff at Morecambe Job Centre who work with employers and assist people back into work, who I meet regularly with.

“The more people in gainful employment the more investment there will be in an area and with that comes a real chance of regeneration.”

The government’s employment Minister Priti Patel said: “Today’s figures confirm that our long-term economic plan is already starting to deliver a better, more prosperous future for the whole of the country, with wages rising, more people finding jobs and more women in work than ever before.

“As the Government for working people, we want to go further and create one nation that is based on security and opportunity.

“With the North West seeing the largest annual private sector employment rise of any UK region, we will continue to help businesses create jobs and support those who want to work hard and get on as part of our ambition to achieve full employment.”