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Unemployment figures in Kent highest since 1994

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The number of people claiming benefits in Kent has hit levels not seen since the mid-90s.

This year has seen a huge increase in unemployment as businesses were forced to battle the economic effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Job centre. Stock image
Job centre. Stock image

But unemployment had already been rising month on month since August 2018, charting 22-months in a row with an increase.

June and July 2020 saw a small decrease across the county, with 68,120 and 69,815 people receiving financial support from the government respectively.

Despite the dip, according to government figures August saw an increase of 3.8%, with 72,455 people claiming benefits in Kent.

The figure is higher than in May, which was previously the highest level of the year at 72,370.

The number has not been this high since February 1994, when 73,360 people were unemployed across the county.


Thanet has consistently been the district authority with the largest number of people receiving unemployment benefits in 2020, and August was no exception.

A total of 8,740 people on the isle claimed in August, just below the May total which stood at 8,795.

One in ten people are claiming out-of-work benefits , in an area which is ranked as the most deprived local authority in the county.

Meanwhile Medway saw its highest level in 2020 with 12,435 claimants.

The lowest figures are found in Tonbridge and Malling, with just 3,530 people claiming benefits in August.

Some are concerned figures will rise again once the Chancellor's furlough scheme comes to an end. Pic: Stock image.
Some are concerned figures will rise again once the Chancellor's furlough scheme comes to an end. Pic: Stock image.

The highest ever monthly unemployment figure in Kent is 77,795, recorded in January 1993.

Records for unemployment began in 1986, the same year the Social Security Act was enacted into law.

The Act made changes to means-tested benefits across Britain, with the intention of ensuring benefits went towards the poorest individuals and families.

The increase comes as organisations across the county fear the job market could shrink even further once the government's furlough scheme comes to an end.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which helps employers retain employees by fitting the bill for 80% of their wages up to £2,500 per month, ends in October.

Some bodies are calling for an extension to the scheme to stop businesses from forcing to make workers redundant as the economic effects of the pandemic continue.

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