THE full impact of coronavirus on the local economy has been laid bare as new figures show the district is among the worst areas nationally for rising unemployment.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that parts of Bradford district have witnessed a doubling of unemployment benefit claimants in the months since lockdown began.

In addition, analysis by the Centre for Cities think tank places Bradford in the top 10 worst areas nationally both for the claimant count rate, and for the increase in that rate over the same period, from March to July.

The Centre for Cities analysis indicates that Bradford was placed fourth worst nationally when it came to the claimant count rate in July – with a rate of 9.3 per cent. Only Blackpool (10 per cent), Hull (9.8 per cent) and Birmingham (9.6 per cent) were higher.

In addition Bradford experienced one of the highest percentage point increases in the claimant count rate from March to July – at 4.2, placing the district seventh nationally. The highest increases were Luton (5.2), Slough (5.1) and Blackpool (4.6).

Bradford was also the worst affected in Yorkshire when it came to both these measures.

Elena Magrini, senior analyst at Centre for Cities, said: “Bradford entered lockdown with a relatively weak local economy and unemployment has risen quite significantly in recent months.

“The furlough scheme may also be masking the true extent of the labour market crisis.

“A one-size-fits-all response won’t help people in Bradford. It needs targeted support from the Government.”

Parliamentary constituency level statistics across the district show that Shipley and Keighley have fared worse when it comes to increases in unemployment benefit claimants since March.

In that period, the number of benefit claimants in Shipley has more than doubled, rising by 104.2 per cent to 3,145. In Keighley, that figure has almost doubled, increasing by 98.5 per cent to 3,880.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: “The unemployment figures are not surprising but disappointing nevertheless, and it is inevitable that they will get worse rather than better.

“This is a very worrying time for the economy and for people’s jobs and livelihoods and why we need to get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

Keighley MP Robbie Moore said: “The Covid crisis has unfortunately reversed a lot of the progress we made over the last ten years in government to have record high levels of people in work.

“The Government has provided unprecedented levels of support for employers and their employees to ensure any impact on people’s livelihoods could be kept to a minimum.

“The measures announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, last month were designed to ensure jobs are protected going forward and I know many businesses across Keighley and Ilkley have benefited from the Government’s help.”

The three remaining constituencies in the district have also seen large rises.

Separate figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions show a further rise in the number of people claiming Universal Credit.

In Bradford district there were 58,096 people claiming the benefit, a rise of 69.9 per cent since March.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “Undoubtedly the pandemic has had a huge impact on our national and local economy. Across West Yorkshire the claimant count has increased by 90% against a national average of 114%. Bradford district, as a major part of West Yorkshire, cannot escape this impact. Whilst dealing with the health implications of the pandemic it’s equally important that we address the economics of it. It’s people’s livelihoods as well as people’s lives that we have to focus on.

“In July we made decisions in the council to invest more into education, skills, regeneration and advice for people all across the district. We’ll need to look out for more investment for these key areas going forward to support people to get a new job and to accelerate building projects which in themselves create employment and opportunities.”