THE number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has plummeted to a record low.
Government figures released yesterday show that 3,905 people claimed the benefit in Brighton and Hove in June this year – working out at 2% of the city’s population.
The figure is down from 5,272 in June 2013 – 2.7% of the city’s population – and is at its lowest rate since records began in 1992.
An increase in jobseekers becoming self-employed has been credited with helping the drop, as well as work experience and training schemes leading to employment.
Nationally, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates fell to 2.4% from 3.5% during the same period.
Tim Smith, of Brighton Jobcentre Plus, said: “It’s quite remarkable the way the figures have come down.
“Although we’re barely out of the recession, rates of JSA claimants are now below what they were before the recession started. In Brighton, we’ve put a lot of effort into working with partners across the city, including the council and various training providers, to help guide people back into work.
“One successful programme in particular is our New Enterprise Allowance scheme, where people receiving benefits are being given a lot of support in starting their own businesses.
“The programme provides business mentors help with creating a business plan and financial support for the first six months of trading to help people with their transition from being on benefits to running their own company. It’s a national programme but it works especially well here in Brighton because of the self-starter attitude the city seems to have. The city is home to lots of new start-ups and SMEs and people are taking advantage of that.”
In Worthing, only 966 people – 1.5% of the town’s population – were claiming JSA in June. The number is down from 1,577 in June 2013.
At county level, West Sussex saw a dramatic drop from 9,266 to 5,840 (1.9% to 1.2%) and East Sussex figures dropped from 8,339 to 5,830 (2.7% to 1.9%).
The figures were announced alongside news that unemployment in the South East – including Sussex – had dropped by 28,000 to 205,000. Nationally unemployment fell by 121,000 to 2.12 million.
Jason Kitcat, Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said the city is one of the fastest recovering locations in the country and generated a higher rate of employment growth in 2013 than London.He added: “The fall in JSA rates across the city is testament to our thriving labour market and local business successes.
“We believe Brighton and Hove is one of the best locations in the country to start a business, with the right mix of skills, local demand and access to global markets.
“Through a range of targeted grant and support packages we aim to raise the bar again in 2014.” Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove, said the figures showed the government’s economic recovery plan remained strong.
He said: “These figures highlight how the government’s economic plans are making a significant difference to the country.”