Local dole queue up 70% in a year

ANOTHER 3,200 people in Suffolk and north Essex joined the dole queue last month as the national unemployment total hit a 10-year high, official figures revealed yesterday.

ANOTHER 3,200 people in Suffolk and north Essex joined the dole queue last month as the national unemployment total hit a 10-year high, official figures revealed yesterday.

Total unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, increased by 146,000 to 1.97 million - just short of the two million mark which many economists had expected to be breached but still the worst figure since just after Labour came to power in 1997.

The narrower count of people claiming the Jobseeker's Allowance grew by 73,800 in January to 1.23 million, the highest total since the summer of 1999. It means that the claimant count has now risen for 12 months in a row.

Within Suffolk and Essex, the latest figures mean that the claimant count has now increased by more than two-thirds (69.9%) over the past 12 months.


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The biggest increases last month - in each case representing an increase in the local unemployment rate of 0.6 of a percentage point compared with December - were in Ipswich, where the count grew by 438 to 3,333 (a rate of 4.4%), and Waveney, where the count was up 424 at 2,715 (4.1%).

Increases of 0.4% were recorded in St Edmundsbury, up 249 to 1,617 (2.6%), Tendring, up 307 to 3,213 (4.1%), and Braintree, up 320 to 2,383 (2.8%), while 0.3% increases were seen in Colchester, up 354 to 2,936 (2.6%), Chelmsford, up 320 to 2,290 (2.2%), Babergh, up 183 to 1,162 (2.3%) and Forest Heath, up 111 to 808 (2.0%).

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Elsewhere there were increases of 0.2%, including Suffolk Coastal, up 187 to 1,292 (1.8%), Mid Suffolk, up 154 to 1,081 (1.9%), Maldon up 83 to 863 (2.3%) and Uttlesford, up 89 to 627 (1.4%).

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said: “We know times are tough and we need to continue doing all we can to support people who lose their jobs find another as quickly as possible, preventing the long-term unemployment which has so scarred communities in the past from taking root.

“The Prime Minister and I are meeting key national employers today to plan what more we can do to help people back to work and into apprenticeships, including advertising more vacancies through Jobcentre Plus.”

However, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May said: “These figures are devastating confirmation of just how serious this recession is for millions of families across the country.

“This Government has failed to invest in Further Education colleges, failed to set up a proper National Loan Guarantee Scheme and failed to set up job clubs. There are fewer real apprenticeships, less people attending FE colleges and more young people out of work now than in 1995.

“Unfortunately all we are getting from the Government at the moment is a series of announcements on employment that are more spin than substance, and are just designed to cover up the fact that Gordon Brown's recession policies are not working.”

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