400,000 people set to spend a second Christmas on the dole in the UK

By agency reporter
December 22, 2012

Over 400,000 people are set to spend their second successive Christmas on the dole according to new research published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The confederation's analysis of official unemployment figures shows that mass long-term unemployment - where a local area has over 1,000 people that have been on the dole for at least a year - is no longer limited to a few employment blackspots.

Last month, November 2012, 149 of the 232 local authority areas across the UK (nearly two-thirds of all authority areas) had at least 1,000 long-term dole claimants. In London, 27 of its 33 boroughs have over 1,000 people set to spend their second Christmas in a row on the dole.

While overall unemployment has been falling steadily in recent months, long-term unemployment has continued to rise. Over one in three (35.8 per cent) people currently unemployed have been out of work for at least a year, the highest proportion since May 1997.

The TUC wants the government to do more to tackle long-term unemployment. Over a quarter of a million 16-24 year-olds have been out of work for at least a year, which can have a terrible scarring effect on their careers.

It has serious concerns about the adequacy of the Work Programme, which is poorly funded and is failing to get people back into work. Recent figures found that just 3.5 per cent of people referred onto the Work Programme were able to find a job for a decent length of time.

The government's decision to cut resources for employment support has contributed to rising long-term unemployment at a time when the rest of the labour market is improving, says the TUC.

General Secretary Brendan Barber commented: "While the recent fall in unemployment has brought some seasonal cheer, it's very concerning that 400,000 people are set to spend their second successive Christmas on the dole, with many more out of work and unable to claim.

"There is never a good time to be out of work but it's particularly tough at Christmas when there is a lot of pressure to buy presents for the kids and big family reunions that add to food and transport costs.

"These long periods of unemployment not only carry a harsh financial penalty, they can knock people's confidence and cause permanent damage to their career.

"With the proportion of unemployed people out of work for at 12 months at a 15-year high, the government should make tackling long-term unemployment a top priority. And yet one of its first decisions was to scrap the Future Jobs Fund and replace it with the under-resourced and under-performing Work Programme.

"We need to see more investment in getting people back to work so that fewer people have to spend their next Christmas on the dole again,' said Mr Barber.

[Ekk/3]

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