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Number of young people claiming out-of-work benefits doubles in West Norfolk during coronavirus lockdown




The number of young people in West Norfolk claiming out-of-work benefits has doubled in the last few months, according to official figures.

Analysis of the statistics by the BBC's Shared Data Unit found that around one in 10 people aged 18 to 24 in West Norfolk claimed universal credit or jobseeker's allowance in June.

In North West Norfolk, 650 young people claimed out-of-work benefits in June, out of a population of 6,254 18 to 24-year-olds.

The number of young people claiming out-of-work benefits in West Norfolk doubled from March to June this year
The number of young people claiming out-of-work benefits in West Norfolk doubled from March to June this year

The data shows that the percentage of young people in North West Norfolk claiming those benefits rose from five per cent in March to 10 per cent in June.

Meanwhile it was a similar picture in South West Norfolk, where a total of 680 young people signed on in June, out of a population of 7,401 18 to 24-year-olds.

The figures show the percentage of young people claiming out-of-work benefits increased from four per cent in March to nine per cent in June.

The number of young people claiming out-of-work benefits in West Norfolk doubled from March to June this year
The number of young people claiming out-of-work benefits in West Norfolk doubled from March to June this year

In both parts of West Norfolk, the total number of claimants of all ages in June was 3,030.

It is believed that the closures of pubs, cafes and restaurants due to the coronavirus lockdown are part of the reason these figures have increased.

An expert from London School of Economics said the hospitality sector is an "important" entry pathway for young people into the labour market.

Professor Guy Michaels said: "It offers people work even if they don’t have a huge amount of experience or completed formal skills.

“This means that young people really have this stepping stone that they take in the start of their careers.

“After the recession, it took quite a few years for the youth unemployment to recover; it might take three or four years to start coming down.

“Each recession is different but there is a worry that this isn’t going to go anywhere quickly.

“It is important that the public policy response is strong. But whatever the usual arguments are in terms of incentivising young people to work – it’s clear that the vacancies aren’t there.

“Part of the numbers are not there yet. As much as the figures show a sharp rise, this perhaps understates the underlying problem because of the furloughing scheme which has been successful at preserving jobs.

“It’s true that once support goes, some businesses will go under. Some jobs will disappear even if jobs survive.”

Prof Michaels said research shows the “first few years” of a young person’s career see them progress most rapidly in the workplace.

In some parts of the UK, the data suggests that more people are claiming out-of-work benefits – at a rate as high as one in six young people.

Claimants of universal credit or jobseeker's allowance aged 18-24 doubled in the UK in the last three months – standing at more than 500,000.

Parts of Liverpool and Blackpool have been worst hit, with closures of pubs, cafes and restaurants all contributing.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £2bn scheme to help young workers.

In the UK, 2.6 million people are currently claiming Universal Credit (UC) or Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) and are required to "seek work". A fifth of those – some 514,770 young people – are aged between 18 and 24.

The number of young new claimants have signed on between March and June is 276,000 – more than doubling over three months.

Laura-Jane Rawlings, chief executive Youth Employment UK, said: “There can be a negative effect of entering the labour market during a recession – there can be a scarring of individuals that enter at this time.

“It’s not just about having one or two bad years, it can be persistent. The people hit the most are people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“There is a good reason to suggest these figures have been understated because of the furlough scheme – the real issue will be months down the line if businesses don’t survive.”


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