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10% of working-age Thanet residents on unemployment benefits

One in 10 people in Thanet are now claiming out-of-work benefits as the economic effects of the pandemic continue to bite hard.

New government figures show that more than 8,500 people in the coastal district are signed up for unemployment support.


The number has risen by 86% - from 4,630 - since lockdown began five months ago, and the total seeking help is expected to grow.

Thanet is ranked the most deprived local authority in the county - and as a result, Cliftonville West campaigner Matt Shoul says the statistics were to be expected.

The Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents Association founder said: "I'm not in any way surprised by the figures.

"There's multi-generational unemployment and poverty in Cliftonville West and other areas of Margate.

"It's obvious that Athelstan Road is in a very severe state of poverty; it was before the pandemic and has to be worse now.

Cliftonville West campaigner Matt Shoul
Cliftonville West campaigner Matt Shoul

"I would be very surprised if general unemployment down this street isn't at 80%."

Despite the high numbers in Thanet, other parts of Kent have been hit harder by the outbreak of coronavirus .

Sevenoaks has seen a 198% jump in benefits claimants since March, while the figure has climbed by 187% in Tunbridge Wells .

In all, the number of residents receiving Universal Credit - and are required to seek work - or Jobseekers' Allowance payments has more than doubled in 11 districts across the county.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale believes jobless numbers will increase further when the government's furlough scheme comes to an end in October.


"At the moment, it isn't an issue - but it's going to become one," the veteran Conservative said.

"The effects of it aren't going to be felt for a few weeks yet, but we are going to have quite serious problems without any question."

Almost a third of eligible workers in Kent have been furloughed, as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

About 200,000 claims were made in the county by the end of June, up more than 26,000 from the same time in May .

And, like Sir Roger, business expert professor Richard Scase fears jobless figures will spike in the autumn.

Business expert professor Richard Scase
Business expert professor Richard Scase

"The unemployment figures have been high in Kent because of the heavy reliance on the service and hospitality sectors, which comprise a very large number of younger and lesser-skilled workers," he explained.

"By the end of furlough, I'll expect the figures to increase; it'll get worse.

"The Confederation of British Industry has argued that furlough should be extended to mitigate the big projected increase in unemployment, and I think it should be."

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