THE number of people out of work in Tenbury and the surrounding area has nearly doubled in just a month.

It is a huge increase that was not unexpected and is linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, it will be a disappointment as it comes despite Government initiatives to protect jobs like the furlough scheme in which 80 per cent of wages are paid by the state.

The concern is that once people lose their jobs, they will find it more difficult to find new work.

It is expected that there will be further increases in unemployment in the months ahead.

Tenbury MP Harriett Baldwin says that the rise was anticipated and hopes that the economy will bounce back quickly.

It is hoped that some people will at least find temporary work in the coming months on farms and in orchards picking fruit.

The Prince of Wales has launched an appeal for a new land army to provide a work force in order to make sure that crops are not left in the fields.

However, there are concerns about if there will be a market for the produce as demand has fallen largely as a consequence of the cancellation of many outside events.

The coronavirus pandemic led to many companies laying off staff and the Office of National Statistics report shows that the number of people in West Worcestershire claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit has risen by nearly 1,000 in a month.

The unemployment rate is 3.9 per cent, below the national average, which is now 5.1 per cent. The ONS reports that there were 2,080 claimants in West Worcestershire in April.

“The economy has had a big shock with many businesses temporarily out of action, but I’m pleased the Government acted swiftly to implement schemes to protect jobs and livelihoods,” said Mrs Baldwin.

“This has meant that eight million jobs have been protected, two million self-employed people have been supported, nearly 500,000 bounce back loans have been approved and over £7 billion of business interruption loans have been agreed.

“Some sectors, like retailing, are actually in growth and we’ve seen the major supermarkets taking on more staff to meet extra demand.

“We’re also heading into the busy season for farmers and food producers and there is a huge demand for pickers in the coming months.

“There’s also a really helpful job finder scheme which has been set up by Worcestershire County Council to help people bounce back.

“This is still very sad news for every person who has been affected, and I and my team have been working tirelessly to help people with job-related concerns or claim issues. Any local person who needs assistance, particularly with the benefits system, can email me and I will do my best to help.”