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CITYMATTERS.LONDON 10

CITYMATTERS.LONDON 10 February - 09 March 2021 | Page 3 NEWS subscribe to our newsletter at citymatters.london This is a trying time for all of us, and it’s more crucial than ever to work together SPIKE: The number of people in the City of London claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit as of 12 November 2020 was 250. Number needing financial aid whilst looking for work tripled before Christmas IN the build up to last Christmas, there were more than tripled the number of City residents claiming welfare whilst looking for work, compared to the year before, new figures show. With Covid-19 hitting jobs and livelihoods, local London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai AM, has called on Ministers to urgently “patch up the holes” in the welfare system and make urgent improvements to their job creation schemes. Data published this week by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that the number of people in the City of London claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit as of 12 November 2020 was 250. This compares with 80 claimants in November 2019 – an increase of 213%. Separate ONS figures confirmed that London had the highest unemployment rate in the UK between September and November last year- having risen to 6.5%. Research published in January by City Hall and the Equal Group has also found that black men in the capital are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts. With a third lockdown now in place for the foreseeable future, Mr Desai has been calling for the £20 per week uplift on Universal Credit to be kept beyond April, when it is due to be removed, and for the current five-week waiting period for initial payments to be scrapped. In October, the Government launched its Kickstart Scheme, which offers a six-month work placement to 16-24 years old, who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. However, Government figures have revealed that despite their funding of 120,000 new placements since October, only 1,868 had been filled by mid-January. The London Assembly Member is also warning that the impact of the increasing number of job losses inflicted by the pandemic is being seen in London’s private rented sector. A survey published by Citizen’s Advice in January showed that one in seven tenants in the capital are now in rent arrears. Mr Desai said: “It’s awful to see so many people lose their livelihoods and so many businesses close as the pandemic takes its toll. “Ministers must take action. We need job creation schemes that are fit for purpose, and Ministers must urgently patch up the holes that have been poked through the welfare system over the last decade. “I want to see the Government keep the £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit in place beyond April and to scrap the needless five week waiting period for initial payments. “With so many renters in the capital having fallen into arrears, the Government must take the emergency measures of extending the evictions ban much further into the future and raising Local Housing Allowance to cover average rents in an area.” THE importance of all of us working together to tackle the spread of this virus was underlined by the UK passing a tragic milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 last week, writes City of London Policy Chair, Catherine McGuinness. This is a trying time for us all, but with the vaccine rollout now well underway, hope is on the horizon. Hundreds of City residents and frontline health workers have already received the first dose of their Covid vaccination at sites in Hackney, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Tower Hamlets and the Excel Centre. Going forward more and more of us will receive our jabs, but it’s important we wait to be contacted by the NHS until it is our turn. In the meantime we need to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. And we need to get tested if we have symptoms. Over 12,000 tests have now been undertaken at Guildhall Yard, every one helping save lives and protect the NHS. We urge anyone with a new, persistent cough; high temperature; or a loss or change of sense of smell and/or taste to book a test straight away through www. gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, or by calling 119. We also encourage all essential workers coming into the City through the national lockdown to book a rapid test at least once every five days. If your test is positive and you are told to self-isolate, but you are not able to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating, you may be eligible for a £500 payment. You can call the City Corporation on 020 7332 3937 to discuss. If you cannot arrange for food, medication and other essential items to be delivered while you and your household self-isolate, please let the City Corporation know. You can do this by emailing [email protected] uk, or by calling 020 7606 3030. You can also call City Advice for help with food, benefits advice and debt on 020 7392 2919, or email them at city. [email protected] Self-isolating can be a real challenge but I’m sure everyone, like me, shares our desire to protect all of loved ones and communities from getting infected with Covid. If we are to get through this situation, tackle the virus and return to the City, we all need to abide by the rules until the most vulnerable in society are protected. The City Corporation is well aware that companies need clarity and a clear plan from the government on when office workers can return to Covid-secure workplaces. A blanket recommendation to work from home into the spring risks stalling the capital’s recovery and damaging long-term competitiveness. However, I genuinely believe the City has a bright future ahead despite these tough times. As we approach the final stretch of this long and difficult journey, we all need to stay the course, abide by the rules and help save lives.

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