Concern for young people as Universal Credit claimants numbers rise in Peterborough

Action is being taken to help young people who have been left struggling by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Concerns have been voiced that those aged 18 to 24-years-old have been disproportionately hit by the health crisis which has battered the hospitality sector that provides many jobs for young people.

The alarm has been sounded after new figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) show the number of Universal Credit claimants in Peterborough has risen to 26,028 people for the four weeks ending on March 10.

That is an increase of 1.1 per cent - up 282 people - on the previous month’s total of 25,746 people.

Wildwood in Peterborough which is to attend a Hospitality and Leisure Jobs Fair to recruit staff. EMN-210320-172253001

The Peterborough rate of increase is higher than the national rate, which stands at 0.5 per cent.

Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough, said: “The biggest spike in Universal Credit has been amongst 18-24 year olds.

“This group has been disproportionately affected nationally by the huge changes we’ve seen over the last two years, especially in retail, hospitality and leisure industries where young people have traditionally found a huge number of opportunities.”

Now a special Peterborough Hospitality and Leisure Jobs Fair is to be held on April 21 at the DWP’s offices in Northminster.

Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough.

Representatives from local hotels and restaurants have been invited to attend with Wildwood, Pizza Hut, Holiday Inn and Peterborough Limited already confirming attendance.

The action comes as Peterborough’s unemployment figures tumble as many employers seek to recruit extra staff.

Recent figures from the DWP show the number of jobless people in Peterborough has fallen over 12 months by 32 per cent to 6,748 people that includes 1,057 people aged 18 to 24.

Mr Hennessy said: “The drop in Peterborough’s unemployment levels shows businesses are creating lots of opportunities for the city’s residents.

“Wage growth here has been very impressive over the last five years - between 2017-2021 gross weekly pay in Peterborough increased by 23 per cent compared to nine per cent in the East and 11 per cent across Great Britain.

“This shows businesses see increasing value in our workforce.

He added: “Opportunity Peterborough is working closely with employers and investors to ensure this wage growth continues while expanding our jobs market, developing our workforce skill sets, and keeping the city a great place to live and work.”