TENDRING has seen one of the sharpest increases in people claiming unemployment benefits in the region, new figures have revealed.

Charities are calling for more support to stop people being pulled into poverty by the Covid-19 pandemic, after the number of claims more than doubled since the UK went into lockdown.

Office for National Statistics data shows 6,755 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in Tendring as of May 14, compared to just 3,615 in early March.

It means the share of the population signing on rose from 4.6 per cent to 8.6 per cent – one of the largest increases in the East of England, where the claimant rate rose from 2.4 per cent to 5.7 per cent.

The ONS figures count those aged 16 to 64 who are on Jobseekers Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants.

Clacton MP Giles Watling said: "It is very concerning that the areas which already had employment problems before the Covid-19 outbreak are now the worst affected.

"I agree with the chancellor that the massive efforts to support businesses should be continued, but we must never forget the plight of those that fall by the wayside which is why eligibility for Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance have been expanded by the government, and this partially explains why we have more claimants now.

“There is no doubt that we need to get Clacton back to work as soon as possible so that we create the resources to help those in need.

"Our local economy is heavily dependent on tourism which has been flatlining.

"I have been pushing to get this vital offer up and running - safely.

“This is a global crisis which will need to be overcome by local efforts.”

Across the UK, the claimant count more than doubled to 2.7 million on May 14, with separate ONS figures showing the figure stood at 2.8 million for the whole month – the highest since 1993.

The ONS cautioned that changes to Universal Credit in response to the virus mean more people could get unemployment-related benefits while still being employed, which could affect the figures.

Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the Government should particularly focus on creating jobs in places that have seen the biggest increases in unemployment, and give people opportunities to gain new skills.

Dave Innes, head of economics at the foundation, said: "Alongside this, the Government should also boost benefits so that people are not pulled into poverty if they lose their jobs."

Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is calling for an urgent "back to work budget" to support jobs through the economic crisis brought about by the coronavirus.

She said: “The Government was too slow to recognise the scale of the health crisis from coronavirus and we are already paying the economic price.

“The window is closing to protect existing jobs and encourage firms to invest in creating new ones."