UNEMPLOYMENT has continued to fall across the Bradford district, reaching its lowest level in more than seven years, according to the latest statistics.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by almost 600 in figures released today by the Office of National Statistics.

It showed that 10,859 people in the district claimed Jobseeker's Allowance during May, representing 3.3 per cent of the population - the lowest rate since November 2008. This compares to a regional average of 2.5 per cent and a national average of 2.3 per cent.

May's statistics break down as 6,934 males and 3,925 females claiming the benefit in Bradford.

By constituency, Bradford West continued to have the highest level of claimants with 3,341 people on Jobseeker's Allowance and a rate of 4.5 per cent. This was a drop of 148 on the previous month's figures and decrease of 1,374 on last year.


In Bradford East there was the highest drop in claimants across the district's five constituencies, with a total of 3,222 people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in May, a drop of 181 or 5.6 per cent on the previous month, and a decrease of 1,268 year-on-year.

Heather Barraclough, employer and partnership manager for Jobcentre Plus in Bradford, welcomed the figures.

She said: "Since 2010 the number of claimants is down by 28 per cent across Bradford, which is very encouraging. It's difficult to pinpoint one single thing that has made the difference. It is the continuation of the work that we have been doing in Bradford with employers, preparing claimants so they are ready to go into work through upskilling, and the general improvement in the economy."

Mrs Barraclough spoke of positive news for the future with the start of the SkillsHouse retail academy which has been created by Bradford Council to ensure people have the right skills to take up employment opportunities not only The Broadway shopping centre, but in the wider district too.

She said that the first retail course had begun and that with the November 5 date for the shopping centre opening, an effect on the claimant figures would likely be seen in a few short months.

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said: "Whilst I welcome the fall in JSA claimants in my constituency, these official figures show that Bradford East remains an unemployment black spot."

"Too many of my constituents are dependent on food banks, and this includes people in work who are not paid enough to make ends meet. Many JSA claimants are sanctioned for trivial reasons and this allows the Government to pretend that unemployment is going down.

"I called in my maiden speech today, for a new manufacturing and industrial policy for Bradford that can move us away from the despair of the low wage economy that is failing the city now."

Keighley Conservative MP, Kris Hopkins, welcomed the latest drop in local and national unemployment levels, which he described as further evidence that "the economic recovery is benefitting more people month after month".

The total of unemployed claimants in Keighley and Ilkley fell by 63 in May to 1,232 - a drop of 460 compared to a year ago. He said: “This is more excellent news for Keighley and Ilkley and, in particular, the individuals affected and their families."

Across the UK, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 6,505 in May to 791,793.