Borough dole queues longer

The entrance to a Jobcentre Plus
The entrance to a Jobcentre Plus

The number of unemployed people in Wigan borough has risen by four per cent.

Latest figures show that the number of residents claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit was 5,210 in September - an increase of 180 compared to the same month last year.

Nationally there is a drop overall this year, but when you bring it down to a local level seasonal fluctuations come more into play

Linda Bailey

There had also been a slight rise recorded in August.

But upbeat Jobcentre bosses put the “small increase” down to seasonal fluctuations and also pointed out an eight per cent fall in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming unemployment benefits: down 110 to 1,235.

Linda Bailey, external relations team manager for Jobcentre Wigan, said it was far more productive at a local level to compare the current picture with the one in 2010, when the claimant count was 38 per cent higher.

She said: “Nationally there is a drop overall this year, but when you bring it down to a local level seasonal fluctuations come more into play.

“People who left university in the summer are looking for work and there is the ebb and flow of seasonal jobs.

“It will be interesting to see the October figures when people are starting at university.”

Ms Bailey said there had been local projects to help people into work.

This included the recently completed Feeding Britain’s Future campaign which focused on the manufacturing and distribution sector, raising awareness of job opportunities to people who may not have considered these fields of expertise before.

Employers had been offering workshops, including Bakkavor, the parent company of Ince-based Hitchen

Foods.

She said that Jobcentre Plus had been represented at the recent Wigan Expo and had talks with several local employers.

It is also hosting a traineeship event at its King Street base on Thursday, November 10.

As far as individual job losses were concerned, across the North West, only 16 per cent of former employees of stricken Bhs, which had a store in Wigan, had gone on to claim benefits, suggesting most had found alternative work.