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Young jobless total trebles in two years in Bradford district
7:00am Thursday 21st February 2013 in Bradford
The number of young people stuck on the dole for half a year or more in Bradford has trebled in two years.
Unemployment figures released yesterday sparked fears that hundreds of young people across the district had been consigned to the scrapheap.
Bradford West MP George Galloway said the plight of young jobseekers in Bradford was now a “national disgrace”.
Overall unemployment levels have also risen, despite a fall both nationally and regionally, prompting calls for urgent Government help for the district.
Last month there were 2,135 people aged 18 to 24 who had been signing on for six months or longer in the district, compared to 660 in January 2011, according to Government figures released yesterday.
Mr Galloway said it was a similarly “distressing” story in his constituency.
He said: “That number has virtually quadrupled in two years. And when you’ve been unemployed for that length of time it’s even more difficult to find a job. You’ve a better chance of finding Shergar.
“This is a national disgrace. Hundreds of young lives blighted by the dogma of this despicable coalition Government.”
While the nation has enjoyed a fall of 0.6 per cent in unemployment over the past year, Bradford’s unemployment problem has got worse.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across Bradford has increased by 2.6 per cent in a year, from 19,493 to 20,001.
It means the district has the second highest level of Jobseekers Allowance claimants in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Bradford Council leader David Green has now called for an urgent re-think in the Government’s approach.
He said Bradford’s local Job Centres should be allowed to abandon the Government’s national work programme and develop a bespoke solution for the district.
He said: “It’s not working. It’s not only taking up too much of their time, it’s wasting their time, when they are trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
“I know from discussions they would much rather sit down and work with us on the local economy, by developing and supporting workers locally, than having to just deliver what’s handed down from London.”
In Mr Galloway’s constituency of Bradford West, more than 12 per cent of the workforce is now unemployed – making it the seventh worst of the UK’s 650 constituencies.
Mr Galloway (Respect) said: “The tragedy shows no signs of remitting. What we are seeing is an inexorable rise in unemployment in Bradford West. We’re also hovering on the brink of a triple-dip depression which will compound the misery.
“Nationally the unemployment rate may have come down slightly but this camouflages the real truth, which is that there are widespread pockets of severe deprivation, in areas which had traditional industries, and which are far away from the relatively prosperous south.”
Bradford East MP David Ward (Lib Dem) agreed that while unemployment levels were improving across the country, some areas were being left behind.
He said: “It’s just not working. We need far more to be done, urgently. There is a Government strategy and I think the austerity measures are all required, but some parts of the country are doing far better than others.
“The Government strategy is working – but it’s not working in Bradford East, that’s for certain. It’s really time that we got to these areas that are being left behind, and that includes my constituency.”
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab) called for urgent Government help for Bradford.
He said: “It is concerning that we are going against the trend, we need to delve into that further. We need to get the Government to understand that places like Bradford need support. It’s obvious that what the Government is doing isn’t working.”
Shipley MP Philip Davies said the figures had brought good news for his constituency, with 32 people finding jobs in the past month alone.
He said: “We all know it’s a difficult economic climate out there, so I’m obviously delighted that 32 people who didn’t have a job last month have got a job this month.”
But he acknowledged that other areas had real problems.
He said: “We have got to remember that in some areas, and particularly amongst some families, there are some deep-seated, long-standing problems which have gone on through two or three generations. This isn’t just an issue that has sprung up over the past year or two, it has gone on for many, many years.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins was unavailable for comment yesterday.
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