Unemployment almost tripled in Kingston in the year ending November 2020 according to new data released by Kingston Council (RBK) today (Thursday, May 13).

Like many towns in the UK, shuttered shop fronts were a common sight on some streets in Kingston before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but seem more conspicuous a year and several lockdowns after the arrival of coronavirus.

Today they signal the reality of job losses confirmed by the council today, which said many more Kingstonians are seeking unemployment support in the borough than was previously the case.

The data released by RBK was compiled in a report presented to their Response and Recovery Committee, which meets later tonight. 

It showed 6,090 people in the borough were claiming unemployment benefit in the year up to November, up from 2,115.

Of similar concern, the council said the report found there was "less than one job for every three jobseekers" in Kingston.

Additionally, central government support for businesses during Covid in the form of grants is set to end.

Kingston Council said jobless numbers were expected to rise by a further 3,800 when the impact from that withdrawn support hits.

The stats reflected a wider national picture in the UK with rising unemployment attributed at least in part to the coronavirus pandemic.

Government data showed that the the national unemployment rate was 3.9 per cent in November 2019-January 2020, and up to 5.0 per cent in November 2020-January 2021.

In response, RBK said that its Economic Recovery Task Force had paid out almost £49m in COVID-19 support grants to nearly 9,000 Kingston businesses, "with an additional £1.6m going to more than 350 local firms".

Further, the Task Force has helped create "400 jobs have already been set up via Kickstart", a council spokesperson said.

Councillor Caroline Kerr, RBK Leader, said: "The majority of jobseekers in Kingston are looking for work in unskilled or semi-skilled roles.

"That’s why the excellent work the Economic Recovery and Community Recovery Task Forces are doing to link people with skills training as well as available jobs is so important. This is very much a team effort."