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NEWS ANALYSIS

NEWPORT'S BENEFITS CULTURE?

Government reform of the social security system will have a wide ranging impact on those receiving benefits in the Newport area. The proposals announced by Social Security Minister James Purnell include:

We have reviewed the latest data available and it reveals a startling picture with respect to the jobless and economically inactive in the city.

Of the 140,100 people in Newport in 2006, 84,400 were of working age. Of those 84,400 Newportonians 15,770 receive social security benefits to support themselves according to the latest figures (November 2007). Therefore, 68,630 Newportonians were economically active and in work.

8,380 (or 9.9 per cent) of the available workforce receives Incapacity Benefit on the basis that they are too sick or ill to work. The current long term rate of Incapacity Benefit is 84.50 per week for a single person.

According to the June 2008 national statistics figures the number of jobseekers allowance recipients in Newport is 2,436. Of those recipients 470 have been out of work for over six months (of whom 190 have been out of work for over a year).

Many Newport households receive Council Tax or Housing Benefit in addition to the above Benefits. The Department for Work and Pensions figures for 2007-8 show 14,653 Newport households receiving such assistance with well over half receiving full rebates on their rent and Council Tax. Average Council Tax in Newport, while among the lowest in the UK still stands at 882.12 per annum. For a private rented property in July the average rent for Housing Benefits purposes for a two bed dwelling was 110.77 per week according to the Rent Officer Service.

Only limited information is available with respect to child and working tax credits. Figures from April 2008 show 16,200 households in Newport receiving some form of assistance via the tax credit scheme.

Labour market statistics from 2007 show that there were 75,000 jobs in the Newport economy. Therefore, there are more jobs in the Newport economy than those regarded as economically active hence the influx of workers from other localities in to the city. Newport also has a high job density. Basically this means there is a job available for every one of working age in the population. Presently this figure stands at 0.96 jobs per working age person. This is well above the Welsh (0.80) and the UK average (0.84).

Average earnings in the city for full time workers stand at just over 22,000 per annum. Again this is above the Welsh average of just over 21,000 but below the UK average of 24,000.