New jobs in West Yorkshire 'not paying people enough to avoid Universal Credit', experts warn

Economists in West Yorkshire have warned "a lot" of people in West Yorkshire were not being paid enough to avoid having to claim benefits.

By Richard Beecham
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 4:45 am

According to a paper, set to go before a West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting this week, between January and February this year there was a net increase of 9,000 paid employees across West Yorkshire, meaning employment was now 31,000 above pre-pandemic levels.

But, despite a slight reduction recently for in-work benefit claims, the numbers remain massively high - at more than double what they were pre-Covid.

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Employers in West Yorkshire need to pay more when taking people on, the paper suggests.

The claimant count for out of work benefits also increased for the first time in a year, with latest figures showing an increase of 1,100 claims across West Yorkshire between January and February - Leeds experienced the largest increase in out of work benefit claims (+1.75 per cent). Meanwhile, the in-work claimant count - those who don't make enough money to survive in work - has declined across West Yorkshire.

Job openings post-Omicron have increased, while median pay across West Yorkshire went up from £1,819 to £1,915 from January 2021 to January 2022. But inflation, which measures the cost of goods and services, for the same period was 5.5 per cent, meaning an overall reduction in real terms.

New forecasts suggest inflation will hit at least eight per cent in April - four times the Government's target.

The paper added: "Commodity prices are proving to be highly volatile, which could have an impact on business confidence, as well as the general cost of living.

"For example, natural gas futures were around 160p in mid-February, as of 16 March 2022, they are 270p, but were as high as 540p on the March 7. Similar volatility can be seen in the markets for oil, wheat and nickel."

It added that food prices had also been hit by the Russia/Ukraine war, as the global wheat market is heavily reliant on the two countries.

Members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Leeds City Region Enterprise Board will meet on Thursday, March 31 to discuss the paper.