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Dole queues in Kent grow by 1,110 people as temporary work ends after Christmas

By Chris Price

Dole queues gained another 1,110 people across Kent last month as temporary work came to an end after the Christmas period.

There were 17,880 claimants on universal credit or jobseeker’s allowance in January according to the Office for National Statistics.

The increase is the largest in three years and will come as a blow to the Government’s efforts to establish a “high wage, low welfare” economy.

Fewer people are on the dole in Kent

However, unemployment across the South East fell by 1,000 to 179,000 from October to December, a drop of 33,000 on the same time a year ago.

The region’s unemployment rate remained flat at 3.9%.

Every district in Kent recorded an increase in those receiving handouts, for the first time since January last year.

The biggest jump in benefits claimants was seen in Thanet, where 285 people joined the dole queue, bringing its total to 2,625, the second largest number in Kent.

Unemployment benefits claimants have crept up in the last few months

Three figure increases were also seen in Medway and Swale, both up 115 to 3,560 and 1,890 respectively. Medway has Kent’s largest number of claimants.

However, there are fewer claimants in all areas compared to the same time a year ago, with areas like Dartford and Dover down 16%.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: “These unemployment figures prove just how important it is to stick to the long-term economic plan that is delivering for working families.

“This jump in January is the usual thing we see every year as Royal Mail and retailers lay off temporary positions after Christmas..." - Andrew Holmes, Jobcentre

“Unemployment traditionally rises in January as seasonal work comes to an end but it is good news that 193 more people in South Thanet have the security of a job and a regular pay-packet than at this point in 2015.”

Jobcentre manager Andrew Holmes, who works across Maidstone, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, said: “When you look at the change compared to last year, all those local authority areas have seen a drop in unemployment, in some areas quite significantly.

“This jump in January is the usual thing we see every year as Royal Mail and retailers lay off temporary positions after Christmas.

“Overall we are seeing vacancies pick up in Jobcentres and employers are coming in to explain to claimants what they are looking for when recruiting.”

Maidstone added 95 claimants, bringing its total to 1,170, with Shepway up 85 to 1,370, Gravesham up 75 to 1,305, Ashford up 70 to 1,055, Dover up 60 1,300 and Dartford up 55 to 725.

The increase in those on unemployment benefits is the highest since January 2013

Significant rises were also seen in Canterbury, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells, each up 45 to 1,115, 725 and 500 respectively.

The smallest increase was in Sevenoaks, up 30 to 545.

Nationally, there were 1.69 million unemployed people from October to December, 60,000 fewer than for July to September 2015 and 172,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The unemployment rate for October to December 2015 was 5.1%.

Average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain increased by 1.9%.

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