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Increase in unemployment in November likely to continue into next year despite vaccine says Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

Unemployment increased in almost every part of Kent and will likely continue, says a business leader.

In November, 68,795 people claimed benefits in the county - a 2% increase of 1,335 compared to October.

Unemployment has risen by 2% in November
Unemployment has risen by 2% in November

Thanet saw the highest rise, with an extra 250 people making claims, bringing the district's total up to 8,350.

Medway remains the area with the highest number of people claiming benefits at 11,820, up by 225 on October's figure.

Tonbridge and Malling was the only area to see a drop in unemployment – claims fell by 20 to 3,315.

Only slightly more women have started claiming unemployment than men in the last month, with 675 and 660 more claims respectively.

Unemployment has gone up and down since March - which saw a huge 75% jump after lockdown began.


The number of people claiming unemployment dropped in every area in October, bringing claims to their lowest point since their peak in May of 72,952.

Jo James, the chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are going to see a gradual increase at least for the first quarter of next year. With furlough ending in March, I anticipate we will see a significant rise then.

"We're a county of small businesses that don't have huge cash flow so the government support has been a lifesaver. But at the end of the day businesses don't want to keep borrowing and can't keep going at the same capacity staff-wise as they did before.

"It's not a good year for businesses with the coronavirus to contend with. Then obviously those that deal with Europe have to contend with the changes which are potentially coming and the uncertainty of whether we'll get a deal.

"The government's had four and a half years to sort this out and here we are now with unanswered questions for businesses to plan for next year. How do you set pricing if you don't know what the tariffs are going to be?

Jo James CEO of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
Jo James CEO of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

"It could also take up to a year to roll-out the vaccine, so it's going to take time for businesses to get back to normal - and then what will normal look like?"

Though the outlook for next year is looking pretty grim, the government's Kickstart scheme is offering a light at the end of the tunnel for those aged 16 to 24 on universal credit.

An appeal from the chamber for Kent businesses to sign up has been met with 1,200 placements across the county ready to tackle the rise in youth unemployment.

Businesses taking part in Kickstart will offer young people six-month placements which will give them the experience needed to get on the career ladder. The government will pay for up to 25 hours a week per placement.

About 700 youngsters are expected to start new work over the next three to four weeks in the 13 districts. The type of jobs include marketing assistants and admin support workers.

There are a number of reasons why claims go up or down and the Office of National Statistics says the slow introduction of universal credit – the benefits system which rolls all payments into one – has had an impact on numbers.

A spokesman said: "Under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under jobseeker's allowance.

"As full service is rolled out in particular areas, the number of people recorded as being on the claimant count is therefore likely to rise."

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