Published: 16:09, 19 March 2019
| Updated: 17:56, 19 March 2019
Dole queues lengthened by more than 1,700 people in the last month across Kent the latest figures reveal.
The amount of people claiming unemployment across the county is 26,900, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That means people either claiming jobseeker's allowance or universal credit in February has increased by 1,720.
In December the number of people claiming in Kent was 24,225, but in January that rose to 25,180 which was revised down from 25,340.
However, figures for February reveal 1,720 more people in the county are now claiming the benefits than they were last month.
Medway has the highest rise in claimants with 250 more people aged over 16 claiming benefits in February than they were in January.
The second highest increase was Thanet with 220 more people aged 16 and over signing on at the job centre.
Across the county, people aged 25 to 49 made up the majority of the overall rise, with 915 more claiming the benefits.
At total of 370 more people aged above 50 also started claims.
In the last year, since February 2018, more than 6,450 more people started claiming benefits because they are unemployed.
It comes as the government's controversial universal credit system came into full force across Kent in December, however, the Department of Work and Pensions, (DWP) is still moving all remaining existing benefit claimants to the universal credit full service and this work only started in January.
Under universal credit a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under jobseeker's allowance.
Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s head of planning, economic growth and regulation, said: “We’re working closely with local businesses and the four universities in Medway to create more job opportunities and a skilled workforce.
“Innovation Park Medway is set to become our flagship business hub and is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.
"The site at Rochester Airport will become a magnet for high value technology, engineering, manufacturing and knowledge intensive businesses which will employ skilled workers.
“Medway’s economy continues to grow and has strengthened to £5.17 billion.
"There are now more than 14,000 businesses in Medway providing a variety of opportunities for local people.
“In addition to the courses offered by the universities and colleges, our own Medway Adult Education centres offer people the opportunity to gain qualifications to help their career prospects.
"The Employ Medway Advice Centre in Chatham also provides employment advice and support to residents.
"Between August 2009 and September 2018, Employ Medway supported 2,150 long-term unemployed residents find work.
"The Work Programme alone has resulted in 15,946 months’ reduction in benefit payments with an estimated saving of £9.5 million.
"We would encourage residents who are looking for work to contact the centre or visit Job Centre Plus in Chatham for advice on the opportunities available to them.”
More by this authorLynn Cox