'Real challenge' to help West's jobless youth
There is a real challenge getting youngsters off West dole queues even though employment is rising, Ministers admitted yesterday.
The Office of National Statistics said the number of people with jobs in the South West rose by 15,000 in the three months to August, to 2,545,000, up 53,000 on a year earlier.
Unemployment stayed the same, at 158,000, down 19,000 on the same period in 2011, and the claimant count dropped by 900 to 87,200 in September, down 2,700 in a year.
National employment reached 29.59 million, the highest since records began in 1971, while the jobless figure fell by 50,000 to 2.53 million a rate of 7.9 per cent, compared to 5.8 per cent in the South West.
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But a study by the Prince’s Trust revealed the number of young people out of work longer than two years has soared, with parts of the West among the hardest hit.
The charity found a 168 per cent rise since 2008 in the number of youngsters out of work for more than two years, and an even bigger jump in 18-24-year-olds on the dole for at least six months, up 315 per cent in the UK.
The number in the South West rocketed from 1,680 in August 2008 to 9,060 this August, a 439 per cent hike, the second highest anywhere behind Yorkshire & the Humber (449 per cent).
South Somerset had the second worst increase, from 10 to 170, or up 1,600 per cent, behind only Melton in Leicestershire, at 1,700 per cent. Taunton Deane had the eighth highest increase, from 15 to 175, 1,067 per cent, with North Somerset at 11, with 967 per cent, South Gloucestershire 15 (810 per cent) and West Dorset at 17, with 800 per cent.
Chief executive Martina Milburn said: “Long-term unemployment can lead to a downward spiral of poverty, homelessness, depression.”
Employment Minister Mark Hoban told the Daily Press: “It is a real challenge getting young people into work, and we still have a long way to go to help the young unemployed.”
He said a stronger private sector was creating jobs, and people were keen to find work.
Labour spokesman Liam Byrne said the fall in unemployment was a welcome chink of light in a bleak economic outlook. But he added: “There are now red clashing lights warning that Britain is becoming a divided country.”
Thousands of West disabled people and their families could be worse off under the Government’s controversial plans for a new system of Universal Credit, a report said yesterday.
An inquiry headed by wheelchair athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said some warned they might be forced out of their homes. The study said nationally, 100,000 disabled children could lose up to £28 a week.
David Cameron said the money going into disability benefits would go up under Universal Credit, from £1.35 billion last year to £1.45 billion in 2015.