THE number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and incapacity benefits has fallen across East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire.
There were 2,063 JSA claimants in East Staffordshire last month, the Office for National Statistics said, and another 1,295 in South Derbyshire. These figures were both down on the previous month.
Meanwhile official data released yesterday also showed there were 3,970 employment support allowance and incapacity benefit claimants living in East Staffordshire as of last November — the lowest number since August 2008.
There were a further 2,920 such claimants in South Derbyshire in November, the lowest number since records began in 1999.
Chris Plant (pictured), director of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce, said it was ‘pleasing’ to see a fall in the number of benefit claimants and said the area had a ‘relatively robust labour market’.
But Mr Plant said the squeeze on salaries and weak economic performance meant it was time for the Government to develop a ‘stronger growth strategy’.
He said: “Worryingly, total pay has risen by only 0.4 per cent compared with a year earlier, the lowest since 2009.
“With earnings growing at a rate far below inflation, disposable incomes are being squeezed.
“It is crucial that the Government develops a stronger growth strategy, focusing on areas such as infrastructure, that will enable businesses to create jobs.
“The weak economic climate is taking its toll on business confidence and public sector cuts continue to bite.
“The Government should also look to radically shift its priorities through allocating more current spending towards capital investment, which will create jobs and wealth over the long-term.”
The number of people claiming disability benefits, which are categorised as separate from incapacity benefits, has risen in East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire, however.
There were 790 such claimants in East Staffordshire in November and another 730 in South Derbyshire — both up substantially on previous years.