Unemployment Briefing - February 2020.

This article has been kindly given to the SSCA by Philip Atkins OBE, Leader of Staffordshire County Council via e-mail (philip.atkins@staffordshire.gov.uk).

The latest unemployment claimant figures for February 2020 have been released, and the claimant count is attached at the bottom of this article. The latest position for Staffordshire shows the claimant count rate has risen from 2.1% to 2.2%, a rise of 605 claimants to a total of 11,960. An increase has also been experienced nationally, with a rise in the number of claimants reflecting the continued impact of Universal Credit rollout. The claimant rate nationally is now 3.0%, a rise from 2.9% in January.

Staffordshire’s rate remains the third lowest compared to the 14 West Midlands Strategic Authorities, and is lower than the West Midlands (3.9%) and national (3.0%) rates.

Numbers increased across all districts in February, with the highest monthly increases seen in East Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme.  District rates are still well below the national and regional position, with the exception of Tamworth, which remains below the regional position but marginally above the national figure. In liaison with the service we have identified no major recent business closures that would account for the rise in any particular district.

These figures show our balanced approach to the economy is working. We are backing businesses across the country to create more, higher-paying jobs through our modern Industrial Strategy and our developing Local Industrial Strategy.

Why does this matter? Because behind every employment number is a person whose self-esteem, mental well-being, economic circumstances and life chances are all vastly improved by being in the workplace. With so many employed and such a small number of people claiming benefits across Staffordshire, this is good news for everyone in the county and means people are making the most of the opportunities on offer.

The new stringent measures announced by the Prime Minister to help tackle the Coronavirus outbreak means we are all are now living in unprecedented times which will affect the economy, and the financial measures the Chancellor has put in place will help, along with emergency changes to the planning process. This will enable us to move workforce to where they are needed. It is vital that we continue to protect and care for the most vulnerable people, the elderly and the disabled and not only continue to protect those children at risk, but ensure more children do not fall into this category.

All of this must continue to be delivered at a time when we are likely to face a critical workforce shortage not just in the County Council but in partners delivering services, and plans are being put in place to manage this.

Throughout the coming weeks I know our staff will rise to the challenges. Social workers will still be visiting at risk families, people will still visit those who need care at home and we will do everything we can to support care homes to protect their residents.

I know many of you are keen to help your neighbours and we will be launching a “Doing our Bit” campaign to promote this, so please do support this campaign. Similarly a staff campaign  - "I Count" - will look to recruit people to support roles in critical services.

It is no longer business as usual and we need to be flexible and ready to adapt our approach on how we work to ensure we can continue to do the job we were democratically elected to do.

Our long term economic plan in action shows we are backing businesses to create more, higher-paying jobs and as Staffordshire Conservatives we will continue to help people build a better future for themselves and their families.

Finally as we face an uncertain few months, I am reminded of the JFK quote…”Ask not what your country can do for you…..” and I am confident that as County Council our staff, and us as members will be clear about what we must do for our county.

Thank you for your continued support.


Philip Atkins OBE

Leader of Staffordshire County Council


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Claimant Count - February 2020.pdf 273.38 KB