Concern as number of people claiming Universal Credit from DWP in Cornwall almost doubles in a year

Local leaders say they are "very worried" about the impact the pandemic is having on jobs in Cornwall.

The number of people claiming Universal Credit and unemployment benefits in Cornwall has more than doubled in less than a year.

Figures were released by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which said it was “very worried” about the impact Covid-19 is having on unemployment.

The LEP used figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to show there were 48,531 Universal Credit claims in January 2021. That is an increase of 101.3% from March 2020 to January 2021.

Similarly the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Cornwall increased 106.4% between March 2020 and January 2021 with 18,170 people now claiming the benefits.

In addition it was revealed there are currently 37,200 people furloughed in Cornwall.

The stats were revealed by Nathan Cudmore, head of commissioning at the LEP, at its annual general meeting.

LEP chairman Mark Duddridge said: “I am very worried and we are very worried about the impact Covid is having and the economic downturn is having on jobs.

“Particular places have been particularly hard hit and the young have been particularly hard hit and we also know that the take up of furlough has been relatively high in Cornwall.”

Mark Duddridge, chair of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

Mr Duddridge said there were concerns about what would happen to people once furlough ends.

He said there was a need for partnership working in Cornwall to help support businesses and protect jobs.

The LEP chair said: “Cornwall has done everything that it can do with the money that is available.”

But he said there was work to be done to develop the right skills which are needed by businesses in Cornwall and enable companies to come out of Covid.

Mr Duddridge said: “Ultimately we need to get people back into work.”

He said there were three areas to focus on – the first was to help ensure Cornwall’s core industries are able to get back on track and attract further investment into Cornwall and “make those industries more robust for the future”.

Mr Duddridge said there was a need to address some labour issues particularly in health and social care where he said there were employment opportunities available.

The third area was to support the growth of new industries and in particular green industries including the offshore wind proposals, renewable energy and other green industries.

He said of the new sectors “many of them will underpin our core industries that have been hit particularly hard”.

The LEP chairman also said it was vital Cornwall makes the most of the opportunities provided by hosting the G7 summit this summer.

He said with the spotlight on Cornwall when world leaders visit Carbis Bay in June it was important potential investors get to see what is happening in Cornwall and the benefits of investing in the Duchy.

Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

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