The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance benefits has dropped dramatically across EastLondonLines boroughs over the last year, figures show.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS),Tower Hamlets has seen a 36.6 per cent decrease in Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants since September 2014.
In real terms, there are 2,299 less claimants within the east London borough.
Hackney, on the other hand, has 1,463 less claimants, which is a decrease of 23.2 per cent from September last year. Lewisham has 1,044 less claimants, which is down by 16.6 per cent and Croydon has 876 less claimants, which has seen a 16 per cent drop from the previous year.
But Ian Brinkley, chief economic advisor at Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation providing research on the future of work, told EastLondonLines that the claimant count is the “worst” and “least accurate” measure of unemployment.
“What you are essentially measuring is the number of people on welfare, it’s a sort of unemployment measure but it is a much better measure of the number of people claiming welfare benefits.”
“That’s why pretty much all economists, statisticians, policy makers, commentators have switched over to the ILO [International Labour Organisation] measure of unemployment which asks a general question [to households] about whether you are actively seeking work, which will pick up people that don’t claim benefits and people who might have been able to make a claim in the past but can’t now”, he added.
Job Seekers Allowance is an out-of-work benefit up to £112 a week, payable to people under pensionable age who are actively looking for work.
ONS also released figures for residents in employment and all four boroughs within ELL area saw an increase.
Employment percentage in Tower Hamlets from July 2013/14 to July 2014/15 has seen a 4.9 per cent increase.
Hackney has a 3.5 per cent increase, Lewisham at 1.4 per cent and Croydon at 0.05 per cent.
Brinkley explained that “that there is something genuine going on there,” as the figures also indicate a rise in employment within the four boroughs.
He said: “Typically if you have an increase in employment, that tends to lend weight to the interpretation that there is a genuine fall [in unemployment].”
“Given the size of fall [in JSA claimants] and given the time over which it is taking place there has almost certainly been some drop in unemployment.”
“What you can’t say is that it is as big as those figures indicate, it could be but it could also be a lot less.”, he added.
A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson told EastLondonLines: “It is promising news that more residents are finding pathways in to work – this year we have had a record fall in worklessness.”
“We will continue to tackle unemployment, promote the Living Wage and provide opportunities for residents.”
Data from the ONS showed that since September 2010, Tower Hamlets JSA Claimants have decreased by 61 per cent, with Hackney down by 51 per cent.
Croydon has decreased by 50 per cent and Lewisham is down by 45 per cent over the last five years.
EastLondonLines spoke to a Lewisham Council representative who said that they are “pleased” of the fall in JSA claimants.
“This reflects the hard work of partner agencies in the borough and the work the Council has been doing with Jobcentre Plus. There is always more to do and we will be continuing to work with our partners to ensure our residents can take up the opportunities on offer.”
Sarah Henandez, the Department for Work and Pensions district operations manager, told Newsshopper: “The latest statistics get us back on track with labour market forecasts and on a local level there are a lot of exciting developments.”