London and Scotland lead the way as Britain’s jobless league soars

The GMB has uncovered shocking evidence of the damage caused by the coalition's cuts, with a national average of 2.6 claimants for every job vacancy. This is a situation that is likely to get worse as the sacking of 500,000 public sector workers begins to bite harder in 2011.

Ben Fox examines new evidence of the mass unemployment in Britain being aggravated by a postcode lottery, hitting some of the poorest communities hardest

The GMB has uncovered shocking evidence of the damage caused by the coalition’s cuts, with a national average of 2.6 claimants for every job vacancy. This is a situation that is likely to get worse as the sacking of 500,000 public sector workers begins to bite harder in 2011.

In a comprehensive analysis of the number of claimants chasing job vacancies, using figures provided by the Office of National Statistics for October and covering 232 different areas in Britain, London tops the list at 4.1 unemployed workers chasing every job vacancy.

Indeed, the figures show that there are 1,359,282 unemployed claimants in Britain seeking a total of 521,729 job vacancies. Poorer areas such as Scotland and the north east are also far above the average, with Scotland having 3.9 claimants for each vacancy and a 3.2 rate in the North-East, while Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales have 2.7 unemployed workers per vacancy.

Elsewhere, the south east, east England, East Midlands and south west are at least 0.5 below the overall ratio.


Unfilled vacancies and claimants by region

Region

Total unfilled vacancies

Total claimants

Ratio
London 52,626 213,795 4.1
Scotland 33,431 129,307 3.9
North east 24,529 78,760 3.2
Yorkshire and the Humber 50,746 139,140 2.7
Wales 25,547 68,123 2.7
North west 68,990 174,843 2.5
West Midlands 62,967 152,886 2.4
South east 61,438 127,424 2.1
East 51,631 104,445 2.0
East Midlands 46,115 93,197 2.0
South west 43,709 77,362 1.8

The full details can be found at www.gmb.org.uk

The most extreme cases where it is particularly difficult to find work are in Scotland, where in four areas – Cambeltown, Wick, Newton Stewart & Wigtown and Ullapool & Garloch – there are more than ten jobless people chasing each job.


Region

Total unfilled vacancies

Total claimants

Ratio
1. Campbeltown 14 180 12.9
2. Wick 23 294 12.8
3. Newton Stewart & Wigtown 18 216 12.0
4. Ullapool & Gairloch 8 87 10.9

There are a further fourteen areas, nine of which are in either Scotland or Wales, where there are at least seven unemployed workers for each job.


Region

Total unfilled vacancies

Total claimants

Ratio
5. Irvine & Arran 526 4,930 9.4
6. Dumbarton 239 1,938 8.1
7. Dornoch & Lairg 19 154 8.1
8. Great Yarmouth 401 3,249 8.1
9. Margate, Ramsgate & Sandwich 530 4,027 7.6
10. Hartlepool 580 4,354 7.5
11. Skye & Lochalsh 26 194 7.5
12. Holyhead 105 781 7.4
13. Thurso 39 288 7.4
14. Merthyr Tydfil & Aberdare 485 3,519 7.3
15. Ayr & Kilmarnock 933 6,607 7.1
16. Skegness 207 1,457 7.0
17. Folkestone 332 2,329 7.0
18. Invergordon 71 498 7.0

The data reveals the scale of the unemployment crisis in Britain and also the sheer recklessness of the coalition’s plans to increase public sector unemployment by 500,000, when there is little evidence that the private sector will be able to pick up the slack. Indeed, there are only five areas of Britain where there are more job vacancies than unemployment claimants – Penrith & Appleby, Harrogate & Ripon, Andover, Kendal and Rugby.


Region

Total unfilled vacancies

Total claimants

Ratio
228. Penrith & Appleby 333 180 0.9
229. Harrogate & Ripon 1,628 294 0.9
230. Andover 795 216 0.9
231. Kendal 518 87 0.8
232. Rugby 1,658 87 0.8

It also has implications for Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals, outlined in his recent white paper. In addition to trying to simplify the benefits system by creating a universal credit, IDS came up with strict penalties for those who refused to take job offers, with one refused offer leading to a three month suspension of benefit; a second refused offer leading to a six month suspension; and a third refused offer leading to a claimant losing their unemployment benefit for three years.

But these penalties are based on the assumption that sufficient vacancies exist. The statistics show that, even before the cuts really start to be felt, the jobs don’t exist.

So Britain already has an unemployment crisis that is particularly hurting a number of areas of Scotland. How long before, as unemployment inevitably rises in 2011, this contagion of areas with mass unemployment levels spreads across the rest of Britain?

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.