Soaring job vacancies begin to pull back benefit claims in Peterborough

Hundreds of jobs vacancies in Peterborough are beginning to make a dent in the number of Universal Credit claimants.

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 1:52 pm
Job Centre Plus.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) SUS-200204-154906001
Job Centre Plus. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) SUS-200204-154906001

New figures show that claimant numbers in the city for the four weeks to September 9 rose by just 0.9 per cent - up by 254 to 27,043 people.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said the increase had been quickly wiped out.

She said a similar number of people had come off Universal Credit shortly after the figures had been compiled with claimants moving into work.

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She added: “We can see that this time the increase was very short term and probably due to people being between jobs.

“There really are hundreds of vacancies across all sectors in Peterborough at the moment.”

The claimant figures are a snapshot and are always subject to rapid change.

But since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Peterborough has endured a sustained increase in Universal Credit claimants with hikes of more than 20 per cent in some months.

The DWP spokeswoman said: “There are a huge number of jobs across a range of companies that are available if people want them.

“We are also finding that employers are not expecting new recruits to be the ‘finished product’ from day one and are prepared to provide help to refine skills.

“There are also signs of a slight increase in wages - for instance in construction and engineering - as employers compete to fill vacancies.”

The DWP is hosting a jobs fair at its Northminster offices on October 19 with representatives from 15 employers expected to be present.

A second jobs fair is planned to take place at the same venue on October 27 with eight employers across a number of sectors, including admin, hospitality, sales, logistics and engineering.

The eight companies are APS Computer Solutions, Peterborough United Foundation, Shoplite, Tristar Global, Cambridge Meridian Academy, R A Baker Glazers, Night Dental and RGE Engineering.

Internet giant Amazon has 4,000 vacancies across the East of England and there are also many vacancies in retail and the care sector.

In the East of England the number of people employed is at a near record high of 3.14 million.

The employment rate for those aged 16 to 64 is at 79.1 per cent - the highest employment rate of all regions in the UK.

The number of people unemployed is at 118,000 - an unemployment rate of 3.6 per cent.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “With unemployment falling once again, and another record rise in the number of workers on employer payrolls, it’s clear our plan to create, support and protect jobs is working.

“As we enter the next phase of recovery, the £500 million boost to our Plan for Jobs will continue to deliver more skills and opportunities for people up and down the country whilst crucially helping to fill vacancies across growing sectors.”

Minister for Welfare Delivery David Rutley said: “Universal Credit is a safety net for those most in need.

“With over a million vacancies available, it offers personal employment support through our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, encouraging people into work and helping those in employment further their careers and gain greater financial independence.”