“How many of these 1 million jobs are for us, George?”

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

TOWN leaders want reassurances from Chancellor George Osborne that Hartlepool will share in the one million new jobs promised by his Budget.

Their pleas echo the Hartlepool Mail’s ongoing Work In Progress campaign to improve employment prospects across our area.

Mr Osborne revealed the figure during yesterday’s budget announcement in the House of Commons.

Latest figures reveal unemployment has risen again in the Hartlepool Mail area with more than 4,000 people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Hartlepool alone.

The bleak statistics led to the Mail launching its Work in Progress campaign, which aims to help jobseekers back into employment.

Mr Osborne said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts unemployment to peak this year at 8.7 per cent before falling each year to 6.3-per cent by 2016-17.

Also, that the OBR forecast one million more jobs are to be created in the economy over five years.

But town leaders have called on the Government to do more, and Hartlepool Labour MP Iain Wright believes the budget does nothing to stimulate growth.

Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “I would be asking how many of these one million pound jobs are coming to us.

“It is easy to say these things but as always the devil is in the detail and I would be very interested to see how they plan to do it.

“Everything we have seen so far is cuts and more cuts and it is places like Hartlepool, that rely heavily on the public sector for jobs that are hardest hit.

“We are losing a lot of jobs in the public sector and I can’t see where they are being replaced in the private sector.”

Mayor Drummond added that proposals for government departments to move to regional pay structures for civil servants when current freeze ends could have “potentially huge ramifications” on places like Hartlepool and he again called for more details.

Mr Wright said: “Speaking from a Hartlepool point of view there is nothing in there that will generate growth, investment and jobs.

“The Chancellor doesn’t seem to realise the importance of unemployment levels in the North-East and in particular the plight facing young people.”

He added: “I would have supported a budget that emphasised private sector growth, investment in the public sector and attention to jobs and growth.

“But we didn’t get any of that.

“Some of the measures will really hurt the economy and the hard-pressed residents of Hartlepool.”

Mr Wright also raised concerns about the regional pay plans which he described as a “huge concern” amid fears it would lead to redundancies in both the public and private sector.

He also expressed fears the phasing out of age-related allowances, which are based on age and income, could have huge ramifications and said the Chancellor should have done more to give motorists respite.

Figures for February showed there was an extra 195 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Hartlepool, east Durham and Billingham.

The number of Hartlepool claimants went up from 4,633 in January to 4,678 in February, which is eight per cent of the working population.

In the former Easington district, there were 3,753 recipients, up from 3,714 last month and representing 6.2 per cent of the working population.