Sunderland community worst for rise in long-term unemployment

Sharon Hodgson MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

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A WEARSIDE constituency tops the league of shame for the country’s biggest leap in the number of long-term unemployed.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said new figures showed that between September 2012 and 2013, the number of adults – aged over 25 – who had been claiming unemployment benefit for two years more than quadrupled, rising from 90 to 405.

The 350 per cent jump places it at the top of the league of all 650 constituencies represented in the House of Commons.

The figures also revealed that nine of the 10 worst-hit constituencies were in the North East, with the two other Sunderland constituencies, Houghton and Sunderland South and Sunderland Central, coming in at ninth and 10th respectively.

Mrs Hodgson criticised the Government’s commitment to creating jobs in the region in the light of the new figures, and questioned the effectiveness of the Government’s Work Programme in matching up the unemployed with the jobs which do come up.

“My constituents will be very disappointed to learn that our area is being hit hardest by the failure of the Government to bring enough jobs to the North East,” she said.

“These figures would seem to suggest that the Work Programme is worse at getting those who have been unemployed the longest into jobs than doing nothing at all.

“We urgently need real action to help local people find employment, which is why Labour is calling for a compulsory jobs guarantee, which will get any adult out of work for more than two years, or young person out of work for a year, into a proper paying job, which they’d be required to take.”

The latest figures show the overall number of people classed as actively looking for work on Wearside dropped slightly again last month.

In September, there were 8,497 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across Sunderland, a fall of 248 – or almost three per cent – on the figure for August.

The drop is the eighth successive monthly reduction in the number of claimants this year, with the figure down more than 2,000 from January’s high of 10,525.