Hundreds fewer people claiming unemployment benefits in Bedford

But the Office for National Statistics warned the full effect of furlough closing may yet be felt

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 1:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 1:41 pm

Hundreds fewer people in Bedford were claiming unemployment benefits in October than the month before, figures show, despite it following the end of the Government’s furlough scheme.

The Resolution Foundation think-tank said many feared the closure of the furlough scheme at the end of September would spark a fresh labour market shock – but unemployment has continued to fall across the UK.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 5,635 people in Bedford were claiming out-of-work benefits as of October 14, down from 5,870 in September.

Office for National Statistics data shows 5,635 people in Bedford were claiming out-of-work benefits as of October 14 - down from 5,870 in September

It means 5.3 per cent of the area’s working-age population sought support in October – down from 5.5 per cent the previous month.

And it was also 1,250 fewer than the number of claimants recorded in October last year.

The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

National figures, which are adjusted to account for seasonal changes, show the number of people seeking help across the UK fell by 82,000 month-on-month to 2 million in October.

The ONS said the number of payrolled workers was “well above” pre-pandemic levels, rising by 160,000 between September and October to 29.3 million.

The unemployment rate also fell to 4.3per cent between July and September, down from 4.5 per cent% between June and August.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak hailed the latest jobs figures as being “testament to the extraordinary success of the furlough scheme”.

But the ONS cautioned the full effect of furlough closing may yet be felt.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said: “It might take a few months to see the full impact of furlough coming to an end, as people who lost their jobs at the end of September could still be receiving redundancy pay.

“However, October’s early estimate shows the number of people on the payroll rose strongly on the month and stands well above its pre-pandemic level.”

She added: “There is also no sign of an upturn in redundancies and businesses tell us that only a very small proportion of their previously furloughed staff have been laid off.”

The Resolution Foundation's senior economist, Nye Cominetti, said: “The furlough scheme has kept a lid on unemployment throughout the pandemic but many have feared that its closure on 30 September would spark a fresh labour market shock.

"Early indications are that the UK’s jobs market has remained resilient, with record vacancies and job moves, and withstood the withdrawal of emergency support well."