Half of Notts jobseekers 'assumed' to go back to work

Jobcentre figures are released today showing yet another drop in the number of claimants.
Jobcentre figures are released today showing yet another drop in the number of claimants.

An 'amazing' drop in Mansfield's unemployment rate has shown continuing success for the DWP, but we uncover discrepancies in the numbers.

The town has seen a 16.7 per cent decrease in the number of jobseeker claimants in line with national figures that show fewer people are on the Dole.

Even more staggering is the figure for Nottinghamshire, which shows 57 per cent of claimants are no longer on the benefit.

Karen Dawn, senior operational leader for Lincolnshire Nottinghamshire & Rutland DWP said: "The figures are really amazing.

"We're continuing to see a growth in logistics care and hospitality and they feature very strongly in our jobs fairs in this area.

The continued trend in employment follows a number of jobs fairs around Nottinghamshire, with a recent fair in Sutton putting 750 vacancies on display, many to be taken up over the coming months.

But when quizzed on how jobseeker numbers can possibly illustrate the numbers of people in work - as many may go on to to different benefits, change circumstances, enter education or reach retirement age, the DWP official said: "It's assumed that these people have gone into some kind of work."

Ms Dawn added: "It's about the bigger picture for us. When we see huge drops on the Jobseekers register we factor in other benefits. Fewer people are claiming Jobseekers allowance, but the bigger picture is employment and support allowance. In some cases people are moving onto other benefits."

The figures for Nottinghamshire were so unprecedented that we found them hard to believe.

A 57 per cent drop equates to a fall to 6,910 - 9,155 less than last year.

The county had a workforce of 382,300 people people last year, rising by 7,000 but our Jobcentre source said recent figures are unavailable so they are unable to account for the other 2,000 people.

Partly explaining the discrepancy is the number of people who are economically inactive - those who study, care for a family member or are on long-term sick themselves, which rose by around 3,000 in the financial years 2015-16.

The Jobcentre source said that while they could offer numbers for reduction in benefits claimaints, the updated figures for the size of the workforce are unavailable.

Alex Flynn, campaigns director at Unite the Union said: "We see all this positive news about unemployment figures, but scratch the surface and it's a different story.

"But just because people aren't receiving jobseeker's allowance doesn't mean that they're back in work or they're in work all of the time. They may be in and out of short term contracts or in a zero hours contract.

"You've got to look at the nature of work and the nature of work has shifted and diversified to be more precarious. meanwhile half of all families are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage."

The number of Zero Hours contracts has risen nationally by 156,000 in the past year but the East Midlands Chamber defends the use of the so-called 'precarious contracts', that offer no guarantee of regular hours.

Chief Executive Scott Knowles said: “Zero-hours contracts provide a flexibility that works for both employers and individuals, particularly now that exclusivity clauses have been removed.

“A great strength of the East Midlands is the large mix of sectors and employment types in the region, which has helped it to buck national trends and create jobs at a faster rate than any other region.

“A flexible labour market has been key to enabling local businesses to drive the economy forward and zero-hours contracts have been an important tool in this. They enable organisations to respond to peaks and troughs in demand and employees to manage caring responsibilities, study, improve their work–life balance or to downshift from full-time work as they move towards retirement.

“Much of the negativity surrounding zero-hours contracts is based on a misunderstanding of the role they play in creating and protecting jobs. They are a vital part of a successful jobs market.”

The DWP said that zero hours Labour still only accounts for 2.9 per cent of all jobs.

For more information about jobseekers and employment statistics visit the ONS databases here.