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Figures reveal sharp rise in out-of-work benefit claims in Slough

Figures reveal sharp rise in out-of-work benefit claims in Slough

The number of people claiming out-of-work benefits has almost tripled in Slough since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show those seeking financial support from the Government rose from 2,820 in March to 7,460 in June.

This amounts to 7.8 per cent of the working population of Slough, those aged 16-64.

Claims made from young workers saw the most significant increase, with more than 1 in 10 people aged 18 to 24 claiming out of work benefits in the town last month.

Statistics show a total of 1,140 claims were lodged by that age group in June compared to 395 in March, an increase of 189 per cent.

In March, 1,715 people aged 25 to 49 were recorded as making claims for out-of-work benefits.

This rose to 4,545 in June, an increase of 165 per cent.

During a virtual full council meeting on Tuesday, the council outlined its vision for helping Slough’s population recover from the economic hardships imposed by COVID-19.

Cllr Christine Hulme (Lab, Central) said: “Many of the jobs our residents have traditionally worked in such as aviation, retail and hospitality will in the short term see jobs declining.

“For Slough, the sectors that local people traditionally relied upon to find work are retracting amid this COVID-19 situation.

“Our job as a council is to navigate through a very challenging Labour market and to support our residents as much as possible.”

The meeting heard how approximately 19,000 people have been furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in Slough.

Cllr Hulme said the situation ‘is not yet clear’ how many of those workers will return to their jobs when the scheme is wound up at the end of September.

She also highlighted that the unemployment rate is higher for people from BAME backgrounds, with those from black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities more likely to be out of work.

Council leader James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) told councillors ongoing regeneration projects will create hundreds of jobs for people in the town.

He said 800 jobs could be created if the redevelopment of the former Thames Valley University site goes ahead.

The council is also expecting 1000 jobs to be created from British Land’s proposed redevelopment of the Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre and Panattoni’s overhaul of the former paintworks site in Wexham Road.

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