HARTLEPOOL has the third highest proportion of long-term jobless benefit claimants in the country with people who have been languishing on the dole queue for more than five years.
It comes as the number of people who have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than two years has rocketed by 300 per cent in less than three years.
Figures show that 1,740 of the 4,728 people in Hartlepool claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance have been without work for more than 12 months, which is three per cent of the working age population.
It leaves the town with the third highest proportion in the country of people claiming for over 12 months and the second highest in the North-East.
The latest figures show that the number of people claiming the benefit for more than two years has risen from 125 in May 2010 to 500 in November.
The shocking figures also show that 395 people have been claiming for between two and three years, with 75 claiming for up to four years and 25 up to five years.
In Hartlepool there were also five people who are listed as claiming the benefit for more than five years.
Town MP Iain Wright said: “What needs to be done is the Government acknowledges the need to get people out to work.
“It is common sense that the longer a person is on the dole, the harder it is going to be to find work.
“Concentration and focus must be given to provide them with the skills and get them back in the workforce.
“Then everyone gains because you are getting people off Jobseeker’s Allowance, they are spending money in the economy and the tax receipts are up.
“People are desperate to get into work, but they are finding it extremely difficult to do so.
“The Government has an important role to play, we don’t want to have a message that people can be consigned to benefits.”
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “The intention of it is support to help people out while they are finding work.
“The idea behind the Government bringing out tougher conditions around benefits is to stop people using it as a source of income rather than using it to help the while they find work.
“I wouldn’t know without looking at individual cases, but for each case where someone is milking the system, there is someone trying to apply for hundreds of jobs.
“There is not enough jobs to go around, so we are always going to have high numbers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.”