THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Bradford soared by more than 40 per cent in April - the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that claims for Universal Credit rose by 7,580, a jump of 44.4 per cent compared to the previously month. This meant a total of 24,670 people in the district claimed benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed.
Bradford compared more favourably to the increase of 65.1 per cent seen in Yorkshire claims, and the 69.1 per cent rise nationally which saw the number of jobless claims in the UK rise to 2.1 million.
Across the five constituencies covering the Bradford district, the number of claims in Shipley rose at the sharpest rate - by 67.9 per cent to reach a total of 2,585 claimants last month.
The town's MP, Philip Davies told the Telegraph & Argus: “Clearly the unemployment figures are deeply concerning and it is inevitable that they will get worse before they get better.
“This is why it is vital that we resume as much economic activity as soon as the scientific and medical experts say it is safe to do so.
“It is tragic for all of those families who have lost their job through no fault of their own.
“It will be a huge task to rebuild the local and national economy, and taking measures to kickstart the economy will be the government’s number one task whenever the lockdown is able to be eased."
In Keighley, the number of claimants also rose swiftly, with 60.1 per cent more claimants in April than the previous month at 3,130 people.
Meanwhile in Bradford South, a total of 5,200 people claimed unemployment benefits last month, a rise of 47.5 per cent. In Bradford East there were 6,740 people claiming unemployment benefits, a rise of 37.6 per cent.
And in Bradford West, the smallest rise in the district, saw 35.7 per cent more people claim the benefits, or 7,015 people.
The data is measured by combining the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and National Insurance credits with the number of people receiving Universal Credit principally for the reason of being unemployed.
Separate figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions show the number of people claiming Universal Credit in total has risen by 32.2 per cent in Bradford to 45,227 in April.
The same data shows a higher increase in Yorkshire of 39.9 per cent, and 39.7 per cent nationally.
Universal Credit aims to simplify the benefit system and replaces six previous benefits with a single monthly payment.
The benefit provides support for people who are unemployed, in low-paid work or unable to work due to a disability or health condition.
Tracy Othen, partnership manager for the DWP in Bradford, said they had begun to see a number of different claimants since the pandemic took hold, including people who had been furloughed from their jobs.
"Universal Credit is based not based on hours, it's based on income, so if someone's income has changed they may be eligible."
She added that a number of online initiatives, such as job and skills training, as well as job searching, were available, and that claims for Universal Credit had been simplified to make it easier for new claimants, amid the increasing demand.
* If you have lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic and are having to claim benefits, contact the T&A on firstname.lastname@example.org to tell your story.