Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Number of jobless claimants increases across the combined authority area

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street accused of complacency on unemployment

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Shocking new official figures show the number of unemployed people claiming benefits has risen during West Midlands Mayor Andy Street’s first year in office.

The number of people claiming benefits has increased in 26 about of 28 constituencies in Andy Street’s area – even in areas where Universal Credit has yet to be fully rolled out - but the Mayor insists on highlighting figures that present a rosy picture from the leafy shire counties in what he calls the “wider region”.

New official figures from the House of Commons Library show:

  • The total number of unemployed claimants across the WMCA in May 2018 was 71,365.
  • This represents a rate of 5.6% of the economically active population aged 16-64.
  • The number of claimants was 7,320 (11%) higher than in May 2017.
  • There were 13,915 claimants aged 18-24, which was 705 higher (5%) than in May 2017.
  • The claimant count has increased in 26 out of 28 of the constituencies in Andy Street’s area

The claimant count covers unemployed people claiming Job Seekers Allowance or the people in the “seeking work group” on Universal Credit.

Part of the increase is accounted for by the full roll out of Universal Credit which was been carried out first in Dudley and Solihull, but the claimant count has also increased in in Birmingham and Wolverhampton which transferred more recently and even in Walsall, Sandwell and Coventry which are all yet to see the new benefit fully rolled out.

The new figures come just days after Andy Street highlighted figures for new jobs that covered what he called the “wider West Midlands”, or Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire, as well as the area for which he is Mayor *

Ian Austin said:

“I celebrate every new job that is created, but unemployment is a serious problem in parts of the Black Country and Birmingham and people on benefits need a Mayor who is on their side and will work night and day to tackle the problem instead of complacently spinning carefully chosen figures to claim everything is rosy.

“The Mayor appears to be completely confused about the boundary of the area over which he has been in charge for a year and should not be spinning figures for what he calls the “wider region” when the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has increased in almost every part of his area over his first year, even taking the introduction of Universal Credit into account."

 

Full House of Commons figures here.

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