Optimism cautioned despite fall in Redbridge Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants

Concerns over unemployment remain in Redbridge, despite Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants falling in the last year.

The number of claimants in the borough was down 0.4 per cent last month compared to the same time in 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There were 6,525 people on the benefit in the borough, which was below the London average at 3.7 per cent of the population.

But the head of an employment training company said she has not seen a fall in the number of unemployed people coming for help.

Bernadette Benn is the chief executive of Barnabas Workshops, based in Ilford High Road.

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She said: “I think that some of the figures are slightly skewed.

“I wouldn’t say the situation is getting any better but I can’t say it has got any worse.

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“I think there are jobs out there but it’s about matching people to the current job market. The demands from employers are different now.”

Barnabas Workshops is currently running courses to help over 50s and lone parents 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 highest number of claimants were in Ilford South, with 3,810 people on the benefit – 4.5 per cent of the population.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said many people may only be working limited hours.

He added: “I think there are a lot of temporary jobs because of the Olympics and I don’t necessarily think we should be optimistic.

“The situation is obviously still very difficult and there’s a whole group of young people just leaving school now.

“I think in the long term the outlook still isn’t very good.”

But Chingford and Woodford MP Iain Duncan Smith, who pioneered current employment schemes as Work and Pensions Secretary, said the Government has improved support for young people.

He said: “Any fall in the claimant count is to be welcomed, but we are not complacent. These are still difficult times.

“We have worked hard to ensure that people are getting the help and support they need to get back into work with the skills that bosses are looking for.

“There are opportunities out there and I am delighted that people are taking advantage of them.”

The next Redbridge Jobs and Training Fair is at the town hall in High Road, Ilford, on September 20.

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