‘Jobs crisis’ wake up call

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UNEMPLOYMENT has dipped below 10,000 in Doncaster for the first time this year.

But borough MPs claim not enough is being done to get borough residents back to work, as it emerged only 110 people have found jobs under the Government’s flagship job creation scheme.

Government figures show the total number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance was down to 9,991 last month. It was 9,842 in December 2011, but had risen to 10,959 by January 2012.

But concerned MPs say there are 2,820 people in Doncaster claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 12 months or more, with up to eight claimants chasing every job vacancy in parts of Doncaster.

The figures comes as redundancy terms have been agreed for around 200 Doncaster-based lorry drivers who have lost their jobs delivering to Tesco stores, after contractor Eddie Stobart axed the posts.

Central Doncaster still has the highest number of claimants, with 4,013, ahead of Doncaster North with 3,348, and Don Valley with 2,630.

Government officials are pleased by the drop - but Doncaster’s MPs are angry the figure still remains significantly higher than two years ago.

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton said: “The fall in unemployment will be welcome news for Doncaster residents who are feeling the pinch in the run-up to Christmas.

“Unfortunately these figures don’t reflect all the facts. Job growth has slowed to the slowest pace since January and prices continue to rise faster than wages.

“It means hard-working people are under more pressure now than ever, which is why it is absolutely wrong for David Cameron’s government to be taking another whack out of families’ tax credits.”

Labour leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said: “This Government has got to wake up to this crisis, they must take action now and they should start with Labour’s Real Jobs Guarantee to get more people back to work.”

Ms Winterton also raised concerns over the lack of success in the borough of the Work Programme - the Government’s job creation scheme.

She said it had put just 110 people into jobs, from 5,000 who applied to take part - a success rate of just two per cent.

“Young people especially are being left to languish out of work,” she said. “The Government should be working with employers, offering to pay young people’s wages in return for apprenticeships and training.

“I am seriously concerned that, unless the Government changes course, long-term joblessness in Doncaster will get worse.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the Work Programme figures showed ‘the number of people who’ve held down a long-term job - usually for at least six months’.

“Far more will actually have started a job but just not got to that point yet, and we know across the country more than 200,000 people have got into work thanks to the Work Programme.

“The programme is succeeding in getting people off benefits and into work. It’s still early days but already thousands of lives are being transformed.

“One in four people have been in work, more than half of the early starters have been off benefit, and performance is improving.

“Previous schemes paid out too much up front regardless of success, but by paying providers only for delivering results, the Work Programme is actually offering the taxpayer real value for money.

“Clearly these figures only give a snapshot as we’re one year in, and the Work Programme offers support to claimants for two years, but these results are encouraging.”

Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, said the latest employment figures showed the private sector was creating far more jobs than were being lost in the public sector.

He said: “We’re not complacent and know there are still lots of challenges ahead, which is why the Government will continue working hard to help those people who want to get on in life and allow the UK to compete in the global race.”