Jobless total shows nearly 50 per cent rise in one year

PUBLISHED: 10:40 31 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

THE number of unemployed people in the St Albans district claiming benefit went up by 46.7 per cent in November. It means an additional 308 people are now claiming benefits in the district compared to the same period last year. The majority of those are

THE number of unemployed people in the St Albans district claiming benefit went up by 46.7 per cent in November.

It means an additional 308 people are now claiming benefits in the district compared to the same period last year.

The majority of those are men with 706 claimants compared to 462 in November last year; 262 women are now claimants, a rise of 64 over last year.

But the number of vacancies posted up in Jobcentres has fallen by around 40 per cent, down from 1.044 last November to 626 this November.

The increase in benefit claimants in the county as a whole has gone up by 8.9 per cent - the largest November increase since 1983. Generally the figure goes down in November and the figures mean that Herts has had a significantly higher increase in claimants over the last year than either the East of England or London.

Cllr Chris Oxley, the district council's portfolio holder for resources, said he was pleased to see that St Albans had one of the lowest numbers of claimants in Herts.

But he went on: "However this masks a serious downward trend with an almost 50 per cent decrease in available jobs and the highest increase in claimants in the county for very many years of 8.9 per cent which is higher than the East of England or London."

He went on: "This is an extremely worrying trend and highlights the point made in the Herts Advertiser some weeks ago indicating that the major increase is in the people working in professions in the City which is likely to have a major impact in the coming months."

St Albans council, which has seen its income fall by around £1 million because of the financial downturn, will be taking a look at its budget at a Cabinet meeting next week.

Cllr Oxley said that having pledged not to raise the district's share of the council tax above the rate of inflation and being limited in the extent to which it could raise charges, Cabinet would have to consider making some "painful decisions" about where to make savings.

It seems inevitable that it will have to look closely at staffing levels following an embargo on the employment of temporary staff.

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