Boston jobseeker figure falls and is far below 1980s and 1990s peak as councillor declares town is ‘thriving’

Boston Jobcentre
Boston Jobcentre

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Boston fell by more than 200 during 2014, new figures have shown.

But statistics from the last 30 years show how that current rates is thousands below the peak reached in the 1980s and 1990s.

The borough’s claimant count fell to 736 in December, down 218 from its position at the end of 2013, it was revealed on Wednesday.

This was according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

The drop has seen the borough move back to roughly where it was before the recession. However, even at the height of the credit crunch the borough’s count failed to top the levels recorded during the 1990s and 1980s.

During the 90s, the claimant count rose as high as 2,524 (in February 1993), while during the 80s it hit 3,328 (in March 1986).

During the most recent recession it peaked at 1,518 (in February 2012).

This comes despite Boston’s recorded population growing by about 12,000 from 1981 to 2011 according to census figures.

Coun Mike Gilbert, portfolio holder for communities at Boston Borough Council, attributed the large decrease to changes outside the jobs market.

He pointed to the rise of other forms of work-related benefit, such as those relating to health, and also ‘the expectation’ that young people stay in education post-16.

“The figures have been engineered by social policy changes,” he said.

He said he felt the town’s economy was in good health.

He said: “We do have a fairly thriving low skilled, low wage economy.”

Michelle Simpson, an operation manager for Lincolnshire from the Department for Work and Pensions, spoke about the work that has been taking place at Boston’s Jobcentre Plus to help bring the borough’s claimant count down in recent years.

This includes help with CVs, interviews, ‘upskilling’ and job fairs.

However, she also said there have been some changes in jobseekers’ behaviour too.

She said: “I think people are casting their net more widely. They are not always choosing to work in a local environment.”