FIGURES showing a full year since the first Covid-19 lockdown began have revealed a 90 per cent rise in unemployment in Bradford.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows a record high of 32,260 people across the district claiming unemployment benefits last month.
Compared to February 2020 – 13 months earlier and just before the numbers began shooting up due to lockdown restrictions and whole business sectors shutting their doors – this represents a 88.8 per cent increase.
However, the rise has been somewhat slower in recent months, with the figure for March, only 70 claimants less than April.
The latest data on the number of claimants is also the highest in the district since the current style records began in 1992.
Figures also show the claimant count has remained the same at 9.7 per cent for the last three months, but is still higher than the Yorkshire figure of 6.6 percent and the national figure of 6.4 per cent.
Analysis by Centre for Cities shows that despite the claimant count remaining steady at 9.7 per cent, Bradford has now leapt to second nationally, with only Birmingham with a higher count at 9.8 per cent. Back in March, Bradford was fourth, below both Blackpool and Hull, both of which now have lower claimant counts.
The Centre for Cities UK unemployment tracker looks at how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting unemployment in cities and large towns.
Some good news for Bradford jobseekers is confirmation that more than 160 new work coaches have been taken on across the district in a recruitment drive by the Department for Work and Pensions. In addition three new JobCentres are also in the pipeline – two in Bradford and one in Keighley, with more details expected in the coming weeks.
Angela McVay, senior employer and partnership lead for the DWP in Bradford, told the Telegraph & Argus that they were started to see an increase in jobs advertised and Kickstart scheme placements now more and more business sectors were opening back up again as lockdown restrictions ease.
“In response to COVID-19 we have undertaken a recruitment drive and have doubled our work coaches nationally. In Bradford we’re going to have well over 160 new work coaches and we’re also expanding to accommodate them with three new job centre sites opening over the coming months.”
“The big priority for us is still the 18 to 24 customer group a that’s still a strong focus in our job strategy that we ensure that all our young people are getting the skills they need to look for, find, and sustain employment.”
As well as the two Youth Hubs opening shortly in the district, the Government’s Kickstart scheme has seen 200 starts in the district, she added.
There are expected to be around 1,000 placements in total, with some having been put on hold due to the lockdown.
A number of larger employers are also taking part in the scheme which gives 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit a six month paid work placement.