North/south divide with Ilford jobseekers growing

The number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance has fallen in Ilford North – but risen in Ilford South, amid claims of a “forgotten generation”.

Figures for last month from the Office for National Statistics show the two constituencies moving in opposite directions.

Compared to last May, there were 81 less people on the benefit in Ilford North but 86 more in the south.

There were 2,225 people claiming the benefit in the former constituency and 3,957 in the latter.

Councillor Jas Athwal, for Mayfield, said the rise was “the tip of the iceberg”.

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The Labour group leader added: “It’s lack of opportunity and lack of forward planning as well.

“The trouble in Ilford South is it feels almost as if there’s a forgotten generation and what’s really being done about it? Not a lot.”

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Cllr Athwal said the council cannot provide enough growth and jobs while the Government is pushing “top-down” benefit cuts.

He added: “In the short term it’s going to get worse and worse, we could just be seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

Ilford North MP Lee Scott said he did not know what could be causing the difference.

He addded: “I welcome any reduction and more people being in work but I can’t think of a reason it’s gone down in the north but not in the south.

“If the trend continues it may be something that needs to be looked at.”

The Conservative MP said new businesses opening in Barkingside High Street and Hainault Business Park could have boosted employment.

He is also pioneering a scheme later this year to help autistic young people into work.

Although Jobseekers’ Allowance supports people looking for work, the number of claimants do not necessarily represent joblessness because not all unemployed people are eligible.

The Ilford North constituency includes the more affluent areas of Aldborough, Fairlop and Clayhall, while some parts of Ilford South, which includes Clementswood and Goodmayes, are classed ‘deprived’ by the Government.

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, is currently unavailable for comment following the death of his daughter.

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