THE latest fall in the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants in Burton should be met with ‘cautious optimism’, it has been claimed.
Dawn Green, chief executive of the East Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau, a charity which provides support for benefit claimants, said the news of another month-on-month fall was ‘encouraging’.
The Office for National Statistics said there were 1,695 JSA claimants in East Staffordshire last month, or 2.5 per cent of the population.
This was down from 1,727 in November and represented the ninth consecutive monthly fall in the claimant count.
South Derbyshire, however, suffered a small rise in the number of claimants, which increased from 1,267 to 1,272 between November and December.
Mrs Green said: “The news of a fall in East Staffordshire is encouraging. I have a sense of cautious optimism.”
But she warned that the count could rise again once Government welfare reforms come into effect in April.
“I do wonder what the impact of this will be on JSA claimants,” she said. “There are concerns about the effect these welfare reforms could have.”
Mrs Green also said the JSA count alone was not a reliable indicator of the state of the economy, pointing out that many people were out of work but in receipt of other benefits.
Meanwhile business leaders have also welcomed the rise in employment and described talk of a triple-dip recession as ‘unnecessarily downbeat’.
Burton and District Chamber of Commerce spokesman Chris Plant said: “The new figures reinforce favourable trends that have been apparent over the past year.”
But he claimed a ‘more effective growth strategy’ was needed to stimulate further job creation.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “It’s good to see long-term unemployment falling and the number of young people claiming JSA dropping again, while the increase in vacancies shows there are jobs out there.
“But we are not complacent, and will continue making sure we give jobseekers the support and training they need.”