Number of long-term unemployed in UK not seen in 14 years

The number of long-term unemployed is “worryingly high” and back at levels not seen for 14 years, according to an analysis of official figures.

Thinktank IPPR found 850,000 people have been out of work for 12 months and this figure has increased sharply since 2009.

The figure has swelled by 20,000 since January and it was last this high in 1997 when John Major was Prime Minister.

“Headline figures suggest that unemployment levels are stable, but these mask underlying trends,” IPPR director Nick Pearce said.

He warned being out of work for more than a year can have a “scarring affect” and make it harder to get back into the job market.

“The Government’s decision to abolish job guarantees for young people may leave a generation of young people scarred for many years to come,” he added.

However, employment minister Chris Grayling suggested the figures demonstrated why the system needs to be overhauled.

“Long-term unemployment is a real concern – that’s why we’re replacing the woefully inadequate programmes put in place by the last Government to tackle the issue with the Work Programme,” he said.

‘This comes on-stream next month and will give people tailored support designed around their needs to give them every possible chance of finding and keeping a job.

“The Work Programme is a revolution in the way that Government works – organisations will be paid to help people get into work and, more importantly, stay there.

“We’re also introducing Universal Credit, which means people can no longer be financially better off on benefits than in work.”

The Government has made welfare reform and getting people back to work one of its key pledges as it hopes to drive down the amount spent on benefits.

But Labour has accused ministers of axing successful projects, particularly those focused at getting young people back into work or training.

Shadow minister Liam Byrne recently described the policy for tackling the problem as “too little, too late”.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs still face the axe and sluggish economic growth could raise fears the private sector is not yet ready to pick up the slack.

Ministers will be keen to turn round these figures ahead of the next election as slashing the number of people on benefits is a vote-winner – and rising long-term joblessness is not.
Source: Sky News

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