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Unemployment Kent: Rise in claimants in March

By Chris Price

Dole queues lengthened by 285 people across Kent last month.

There were 21,765 people on either jobseeker's allowance or universal credit in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

However, it is a significantly less steep increase than jump of 895 in February.

There were more people on unemployment benefits in Kent last month

Men made up the majority of the new claimants, rising by 180 to 13,215.

People aged 25 to 49 were the worst affected, with an increase of 125 claimants to 10,875.

However, 16 to 24-year-olds were not far behind, up 115 to 4,800.

It is the sixth straight month the county's total number of people on unemployment-related benefits has grown.

Statisticians have blamed the rise on the full rollout of universal credit, which also pays some people who are in work.

Swale, which introduced the benefit in December, recorded the largest increase of 115 to 2,240.

Full universal credit came into force in Thanet in July last year, giving it the second largest total, up 60 to 3,760.

The county's claimant count has risen for six straight months

However, Dartford, where the benefit is not due until July this year, recorded Kent's third largest increase, up 40 to 865.

Other notable risers were Medway and Canterbury, both up 30 to 3,500 and 1,495 respectively.

Unike last month, there were some districts which recorded declines in claimant numbers.

Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells were all down 20 to 1,305, 775 and 675 respectively, while Sevenoaks dropped by 10 to 535.

Across the South East, the number of people out of work increased by 16,000 to 161,000 in the three months to February.

The region's unemployment rate increased by four decimal places to 3.4%, although it remains the UK's joint lowest.

Nationally, the UK unemployment rate was 4.2%, the lowest since 1975.

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