Christmas and New Year looking bleak for long-term unemployed, says TUC

Almost a quarter of a million people in the UK have been unemployed for more than a year and many of them will be spending their second or third successive Christmas out of work, according to figures released today by the TUC.

The TUC’s analysis of official unemployment statistics reveals that more than one-third of the 232 local authority areas across the UK (88 council areas) now have more than 1,000 residents who have been claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) for at least 12 months.

The TUC also says that the New Year holds little hope of improvement in the prospects of the long-term unemployed, with proposed public sector cuts expected to hit hard.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Across the country thousands and thousands of people have been struggling to find work – some of them for several years now – and for their families there won’t be much to celebrate this Christmas.

“And with many local councils in the process of issuing redundancy notices to thousands of their employees over the coming weeks, the future for those about to lose their jobs and those who’ve been out of work for some time looks especially bleak.

“The Government’s huge cuts to public spending will see thousands of public sector workers being made redundant in the New Year, and those working in the private sector could be hit just as hard,” he added.

The TUC’s figures point to significant increases in the numbers of long-term JSA claimants, with some parts of the UK hit much harder than others.

At the close of 2007, 117,845 individuals had been claiming JSA for more than 12 months. Now that figure is 243,330.

Northern Ireland has seen the sharpest increase in long-term unemployment in the past year with a 3.2% increase. Of the top 20 areas that have seen the biggest rises in long-term unemployment, 12 are in Northern Ireland.

Parts of Greater London have also been badly affected with the boroughs of Hackney, Kensington and Chelsea, and Sutton also suffering large increases in the number of long-term JSA claimants.

Other regions of the UK affected by growth in the number of people out of work for more than a year since last Christmas are Wales, which has seen a 2.7% increase, Yorkshire and the Humber (2.5%) and the South East (2.5%).

Total long-term unemployment, including those who have not been claiming JSA, rose to 839,000 in October 2010, a 34% increase on the previous year and the highest level since February 1997.

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