Published: 12:54, 14 May 2019
| Updated: 14:15, 16 May 2019
Almost 700 more people are claiming unemployment benefits across Kent, the latest figures reveal.
Dole queues lengthened by 675 people last month as more people started to claims for jobseeker's allowance or universal credit.
In March, 560 more claims were made across the county than in February, when there were 26,900 people claiming the benefits in Kent, according to the Office for National Statistics.
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.
In April, Medway saw the highest rise in claimants with 235 more people aged over 16 claiming benefits than they were in March.
Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s head of planning, economic growth and regulation, said: “We are continuing to work closely with local businesses and the four universities in Medway to help create more job opportunities.
“There are more than 14,000 businesses in Medway which provides a variety of opportunities for local people.
“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 £5.17billion. There are now more than 14,000 businesses in Medway providing a variety of opportunities for local people.
“As well as courses at 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. We also offer a work and health programme which aims to support people with disability or additional needs to secure employment.”
That works out to be just over 35% of all claims in the county being made in Medway.
The second highest increase was Maidstone with 165 more people aged 16 and over signing on.
Third came Gravesham where 120 more people claimed the benefits than they did the month before.
In Thanet 45 less people were found to be claiming the benefits than they were in April as the figure fell from 4,390 to 4,345.
Ashford also saw a slight drop in claims with numbers falling from 1,880 to 1,865, meaning 15 less people were making claims.
Numbers of people aged 16 to 24 claiming the benefits also rose across the county by 150.
In March 5,895 young people between those ages claimed the benefits, but this month that figure rose to 6,045.
Across the county, figures also rose for people aged 25 to 49 who were making claims.
In March 14,090 were claiming, but in April that figure rose to 14,530.
At total of 90 more people aged above 50 also started claims.
The latest figures come just months after the government's rolled out universal credit system in 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.
More by this authorLynn Cox