Latest statistics reveal people claiming benefits is at long-time low in Calderdale

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The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in Calderdale has reached a record low in six years.

Latest Labour Market Statistics, released today, reveal that the number of unemployed men and women in the region claiming the government benefit totals 3,276 for December 2014, a year-on-year decrease of more than two thirds; standing at 2.5 per cent compared with the national average of 1.9 per cent.

From December 2013, the total number of people claiming is down by more than two thirds, from 5,137.

The latest figures are down month-on-month with 82 fewer claimants in the December than November 2014 - records for Calderdale’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show.

Between May 2008 and 2013, the amount of people claiming JSA steadily increased from 3,261 to 6,905 in February 2013, according to Nomis - office for national statistics.

The number of Calderdale residents claiming the benefit introduced for the purpose of temporary aid whilst an individual seeks employment reached an all time high in February 2012 when 6,984 people - more than double the amount of today’s figures - claimed JSA. This shows a 53.1 per cent decrease since the highest recorded figures to date.

The number of people aged 25-49 claiming the £72.40 benefit entitlement is more than double that of those aged 18-24 claiming the £57.35 allowance.

DWP Jobcentre Plus employer and partnership manager for Calderdale, Ann Sykes, said this figure is reflective of the wider age bracket but also demonstrates the Government’s focus on getting youngsters back into employment.

She said: “Locally, it’s a positive picture. The decrease in the number of people claiming JSA has been going down for months now.

“Compared with December 2013, the year-on-year figures show we’ve reduced the number of people claiming by 1,861 with 595 fewer younger people now claiming which stands at a 42 per cent decrease. The figures are reflective of the recent up-turn in the economy and the fact that we have worked hard with claimants to address the barriers they face.”

Job Centreplus Calderdale says it has worked effectively with young claimants to improve their CV’s, interview skills and offered work-based placements whilst still on benefits to help ease people back into work.

“Welfare to Work and Getting Britain Working programmes have been implemented to build the confidence of our clients and get youngsters back into work; in line with goverment policy - this section of society was one of the worst affected by the recession so a lot of extra work to get them back into work has been invested in them,” said Ann.

People claiming benefits for more than 12 months has decreased month-on-month from 1,200 in November 2014 to 1,165 long-term claimants last month.

Earliest Nomis online records show the number of Calderdale men and women aged 16-64 claiming benefits for more than 12 months has increased by more than five times from 180 in January 2006 to 1,165 in December 2014.

The total number of unemployed people in the region has doubled in ten years - from January 2004 - December 04 the number of unemployed men and women in Calderdale stood at 4,300. Figures show this has increased by 50 per cent from July 2013 - June 2014 to 8,600 classed as unemployed. The total population recorded in 2004 was 195,000 which has increased by just over 10,000 to 206,400 people living in Calderdale in 2014.

Mrs Sykes declined to comment when asked about the unemployment increase over ten years.

Markit Economics chief economist Chris Williamson said: “Unemployment has sunk below six per cent for the first time in just over six years, wage growth is rising in real terms and households are feeling the most optimistic about their finances since the recession struck.”