A sharp fall in the nation’s jobless figure was today met with a warning as it emerged more people are on unemployment benefit in Blackpool than anywhere else in the North West.
More than one in 20 people in the resort are claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), according to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
While the government hailed falling unemployment across the country, there were still 4,919 people in the Blackpool local authority area claiming the benefit in December.
Despite having fallen from more than 5,500 – 6.3 per cent of the working age population – in the year up to September 2013, the statistics leave the resort with the eighth highest proportion of claimants in the UK.
Across the North West, unemployment has fallen to 7.7 per cent – compared to a national figure of 7.1 per cent – but Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden warned the resort risks being left behind by government policies.
Mr Marsden, whose constituency has a six per cent claimant rate, said: “Any fall in JSA claimant figures is welcome but compared to the North West and the rest of the UK we are lagging around.
“That is something still reflected on the ground, if you talk to employers and people seeking work.
“And these figures don’t tell the whole story – there are many people out of work who do not claim for a large number of reasons.
“Unless the stimulus the South East is getting from the housing bubble is translated in to proper policies for other regions, these figures are going to continue.”
Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for urban regeneration, said: “It’s pleasing to see there are signs of improvement in employment in Blackpool, however, the high claimant count that has been an issue for so long remains a concern.
“As a council we are always focused on doing our best to provide help to businesses and the local economy.
“For example, we should see a positive upturn in employment soon as Sainsbury’s are currently recruiting around 350 staff as part of preparations for their store opening at Talbot Gateway.
“The Positive Steps team also continue to offer free advice and support to unemployed Blackpool residents wanting help with training, CV writing, filling in application forms and debt advice.”
The number of claimants has fallen nationally to 2.9 per cent and to 3.3 per cent in the North West.
The Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency has a 4.3 per cent claimant rate.
In Lancaster and Fleetwood, 2.2 per cent people claim JSA, while in Fylde the figure stands at two per cent.
Wyre and Preston North has the lowest rate across the Fylde coast, with just one per cent of people claiming.