Unemployment up across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, say figures released before coronavirus arrived

Job Centre

Job Centre - Credit: Archant

Unemployment increased in our part of the region according to figures released before the coronavirus outbreak - but the Employment Minister says a promising national picture offers a ‘strong foundation’ for whatever lies ahead.

The employment rate in the East of England is said to be 78.4pc which is higher than the UK average of 76.5pc.

In Ely and around East Cambridgeshire, there were 775 recorded as being out of work. This is an increase of 14pc from last year.

Across March, Chatteris and Wisbech there were 1,705 claiming unemployment-related benefit - up 11pc in comparison to last year.

Before the coronavirus outbreak led to many businesses closing their premises, there were a variety of roles available for job seekers in areas such as the holiday sector, retail and hospitality.

Booking.com was said to be recruiting 150 customer service advisors at its Cambridge offices for summer roles and Heron Foods set to open in Chatteris early May was looking for around 20 staff members.

McDonald’s and KFC in Wisbech were also looking for team members. Prison officers were needed at HMP Whitemoor in March.

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And even though these Department for Work and Pension figures are from January and before the first case of coronavirus was reported in the UK, the Employment Minister said last week they provide a ‘strong foundation’ for the uncertainty ahead.

Mims Davies MP said: “Our focus at present is guiding the country through the worst public health crisis in a generation and supporting families.

“People across the country are worried about jobs and their future, but with more people in work over the three months to January and wages continuing to outpace inflation, we start from a strong foundation.”

She added: “The Chancellor has outlined key measures to support British people, British jobs and British businesses through this difficult time.”

JobCentres in Wisbech and Ely are still open to support job seekers and have put social distancing measures in place in line with government guidelines.

However customers are urged to complete tasks online and any in-person sessions are being held over the phone where possible to reduce footfall and protect staff and customers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Guidance for employees and businesses on coronavirus is available through the DWP website.

- Have you found work during the coronavirus outbreak? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk with your story.