Crawley unemployment falls as monthly pay rises

Unemployment in Mid Sussex is down 26% in the past year
Unemployment in Mid Sussex is down 26% in the past year

Unemployment figures for Crawley fell by 1,300 in the space of the year.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week also showed the number of people out of work to be 3,200 in September, compared to 4,500 a year earlier.

The gross monthly wage for Crawley workers rose by £46 – though women still earned an average of £116 per month less than men.

The numbers claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) fell from 1,085 in September to 922 in December.

Paul Niner, of Mid Sussex Jobcentre Plus, said the figures showed the town had made positive progress – but still had some way to go.

He added: “There are opportunities for those people with the requisite skills and many JSA customers are able to find work within a very short timescale.

“The Department of Work & Pensions are now concentrating activity on supporting the harder-to-help customers as this is now where we can make the biggest difference.”

The figures showed 115 new businesses had opened in Crawley between 2013 and 2014.

But the town had the highest level of economic inactivity – those neither in work nor registered as unemployed – in West Sussex, apart from Worthing.

Mr Niner said it was “massively important” to engage with such people both for the good of the economy and for their personal wellbeing.

He added: “Inactivity is related to the relative affluence of an area, even in the most wealthy areas there are pockets of deprivation.

“Crawley has a broad mix of residents and a number of identified areas of deprivation where there is a higher occurrence of inactivity. There is a tendency in these areas to be a higher level of unemployment for a number of reasons such as level of skills, general health and wellbeing and the effect of generational unemployment.”

Explaining what was being done to get people into the workforce, Mr Niner said those on income support and employment support allowance were assigned work coaches to identify what help was needed.

He acknowledged there were often “barriers” preventing people from making progress – such as a lack of self-esteem, health problems and out-of-date skills.

In an effort to bring down the barriers, the DWP has been working with Children & Family Centres and the county council’s Think Family programme, where staff were seconded to help families with multiple problems.