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Spike in numbers claiming unemployment benefit during COVID-19 crisis


Spike in numbers claiming unemployment benefit during COVID-19 crisis


The number of Brits claiming unemployment benefit soared to 2.1 million in April, it has been revealed.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the total number of people unable to work and turning to benefits for support rose by 856,500 in the first full month of lockdown – a jump of 69.1%.

The Claimant Count includes a combination of those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) as well as claimants of Universal Credit (UC) who fall within the UC ‘searching for work’ bracket.

ONS statistics also show that the number of job vacancies in the UK fell by almost a quarter to 637,000 in the three months to April.

While the figures don’t account for everyone who is currently unemployed, due to eligibility, experts warn the latest announcement starts to paint a bleak picture for employment across the country.

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Unemployment on the rise

According to the ONS unemployment rose by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the first quarter of 2020.

The unemployment rate is estimated at 3.9%, 0.1% higher than in the same period last year, and 0.1% higher than in the previous quarter.

However, experts warn of worsening figures in the coming months as the latest figures only cover the first week of lockdown.

Giving evidence to the Lords economic affairs committee today (May 19), Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he expected unemployment to be in double figures.

Mr Sunak warned that Britain is facing a “severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen” as he offered his thoughts on what lies ahead after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although we have put unprecedented mitigating actions in place, I certainly won’t be able to protect every job and every business,” he admitted.

“We’re already seeing that in the data, and no doubt there will be more hardship to come. This lockdown is having a very significant impact on our economy.

“We are likely to face a severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen, and of course that will have an impact on employment.”

Youngest and oldest workers will struggle

The news of a spike in unemployment comes admits reports both the youngest and oldest British workers are most likely to face unemployment during and post lockdown.

New research by think-tank the Resolution Foundation has warned that wage reductions and job losses could hit the incomes of some in the age brackets permanently.

The Foundation surveyed more than 6,000 adults in partnership with charity the Health Foundation. It highlighted that younger works risk being impacted financially by the current situation for years to come, while older workers may find themselves facing early retirement well before state pension age.

It also found that more than one in three 18 to 24-year-olds and three in 10 workers in their early 60s are receiving less pay than they did at the start of the year in comparison to less than a quarter of workers aged between 35 and 49.

What’s more, nine per cent of young people in this category have lost their jobs entirely – the highest percentage of any age segment. It is suspected this is because they work in industries hardest hit by the pandemic such as the hospitality sector.

However, in positive news, the research revealed that the coronavirus job retention scheme, which currently covers the cost of 80% of a person’s wage up to £2,500 per month, had helped find an equal balance across all pay bands.

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Debt and unemployment

As Brits face learning to live with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, they are being urged to remember they can seek support with debts they owe.

As the UK’s leading personal debt specialist Creditfix is urging those worried about their finances to seek support.

Dealing with debt can be daunting, especially when facing redundancy or unemployment.

Anyone worried about job security should take time to take stock of their finances to help ensure control should the worst happen.

Taking small steps such as creating a budget or making a list of non-essential services that could be cut in light of a lower income are just two ways people can hold onto as much financial control as possible.

However, for those unsure of the best way to manage finances and repay debts the expert team at Creditfix can offer support.

From seemingly simple tips such as helping people make a list of their debts to guiding people through an income and expenditure to establish how much money they have each month after covering the cost of expenses, the team is on hand to offer help and advice to those in need.


If you’re worried about employment and covering the cost of debts you owe, talk to Creditfix. The team is on hand to offering help and guidance to ensure you make the best decision for your circumstances. Discover more by calling 0808 253 3282.

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