Stevenage young unemployed doubles under Coalition

Unemployment among young people in Stevenage has more than doubled since the coalition government took power a report out today shows.

Between May 2010 and September 2011 the town saw the UK’s ninth highest increase in 18 to 24-year-olds claiming jobseeker’s allowance for six months or more. In the 16-month period figures rose from 110 to 255 - a 132 per cent increase.

The study by the House of Commons Library reveals Stevenage is one of 30 constituencies where claimant figures have risen by over 100 per cent in the period.

Leader of Labour-controlled Stevenage Borough Council, Sharon Taylor, said the figures show the government plan for the economy is not working.

“I think it shows what we have been saying – that the cuts being made are going too far and too fast. We absolutely have to have better plan for the economy, and Ed Balls’ five point plan is a good start.

“It’s a tragedy to take away the aspirations of our young people – with no training and no prospects for the future. We need to get some input into the economy. We have to have cuts, but backed with a way of boosting the economy.

“I don’t hear anything coming from the government about what they are going to do about it. It’s a wicked waste to have our young people thrown on the scrap heap.”

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Stephen McPartland, Conservative MP for the town, said he and the government are taking action to create jobs to help the three per cent of the town’s 18 to 24-year-olds claiming JSA.

“We can all understand the frustration of looking for work and not being able to find a job. I am focused on increasing jobs for local people and employ local people in my office. I also work very closely with North Herts College in particular to help local students find jobs and I also employ one of their students every year to earn while they learn. “I believe there was too much talk under the previous government and we need action, which is why I was pleased we launched a welding skills centre at North Herts College last month. These type of initiatives, combined with the massive �250m government investment in infrastructure in Stevenage will help create lots of employment opportunities locally.”

Stevenage Citizens Advice Bureau advice manager Debbie Reynolds said the recession and government cuts in services was having a “significant effect” on the town.

“In the first nine months of this year we have seen our telephone and face-to-face contacts with clients rise by 18 per cent compared to the same period last year. This covers the whole range of topics that we regularly deal with – debt, benefits, employment and housing.”

She added: “The withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance has put pressure on households already struggling with unemployment, debt and the rising cost of living. And the ending of schemes such as the Future Jobs Funds has limited opportunities for some young long-term unemployed people to get into work. We have not yet seen any sign of other initiatives such as apprenticeship schemes replacing these programmes.”