Enterprise drives fall in job seekers

signing out: The number of people claiming benefits in Preston has reduced

signing out: The number of people claiming benefits in Preston has reduced

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The number of people out of work in Preston has fallen in the last month, new figures have shown.

Statistics show the number of people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance during April fell by 95 claimants to 3,688 between March and April, but still means 4.1% of the city’s working population is now claiming the benefit.

In neighbouring South Ribble, the number has fallen by 70 claimants to 1,555 and in Chorley the number is down by 78 claimants to 1,853.

Hugh Evans, policy director of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said it had seen a surge in the number of unemployed people setting up their own businesses.

He said: “A big chunk of those figures will have come from people setting up their own business and coming off Job Seekers’ Allowance as a result.

“We have run the Enterprise Allowance Scheme which lets people who have been unemployed for six months and more to get support in setting up their own business.

“We have helped people set up micro-breweries, electricians, carpenters, all kinds of different businesses.

“The spirit of enterprise has definitely helped bring these figures down.”

In other parts of Lancashire, Lancaster saw one of the biggest falls in Job Seekers’ Allowance claimants with numbers dropping by 184 to 2,780 while Wyre saw a reduction of 61 to 1,763 claimants between March and April.

On the Fylde, the number of claimants rose by 54 claimants to 1,021, the Ribble Valley figures fell by 49 claimants to just 507 and West Lancashire fell by 95 claimants to 2,393.

The overall level of unemployment rose by 11,000 to 329,000 in the three months to March, but nationally the rate fell to 2.6m.