Unemployment numbers rise

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper

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A FURIOUS MP blamed government cuts as new figures revealed unemployment in Pontefract and Castleford has risen by almost 12 per cent this year.

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said jobs had been hit by delays to projects like the long-awaited £14.5m Castleford Interchange as it was revealed 3,010 residents in the constituency were claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) in July – 321 more than the same period last year.

The number of women claiming the benefit rose by 26 per cent, from 776 in July 2010 to 977 in July this year.

Ms Cooper, whose constituency also includes Normanton, said: “These figures show the government’s economic policy is a disaster for our area, and women are being hit particularly hard.

“The worst of the global financial crisis was three years ago, people’s lives should be improving right now.

“But instead the government has slammed on the brakes and that’s hitting jobs badly, especially in the north.”

The number of residents claiming JSA rose for the third month in a row and there were 67 extra claimants since June.

Of those, 1,045 were aged 18-24, 1,555 25-49 and 400 aged 50 or over.

Job centres in the constituency reported 590 vacancies in July 2011 – with 5.1 claimants to every vacancy.

Ms Cooper said: “It was crazy to cut investment in things like jobs for young people and projects like Castleford Interchange and local school buildings.

“That has hit local jobs and it will end up costing us more because more people are on unemployment benefit.”

In the Hemsworth constituency – which includes Featherstone – there were 2,445 people claiming JSA in July.

In the same period last year, 2,176 people were claiming the benefit.