HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright has pleaded with the government not to “abandon a whole generation” after the town topped the youth unemployment league.
Youth unemployment figures are the highest they have been since 1995 and Mr Wright urged the government to do more during an emotional speech in the Houses of Parliament.
Speaking last night, the town’s MP said: “Youth unemployment is the single biggest social and economic problem facing my constituency, and its effects will leave a scar on Hartlepool’s prospects for decades to come.
“My town, Mr Speaker, has the dubious and unwanted distinction of having the worst youth unemployment in the country.”
Figures show the number of 18 to 25-year-olds out of work increased to 14.7 per cent from September last year to September this year, with 1,450 without a job.
This is up by 3.5 per cent from the previous year, when 13.9 per cent, or 1,158 on the dole queue.
Hartlepool has seen the biggest rise in youth unemployment across the country in the past year.
Mr Wright went on to say that when he was growing up in the 1980s, the “spectre of unemployment haunted my constituency”.
He added: “The deindustrialisation of this country which took place in the 1980s hit Hartlepool hard – an astonishing 20,000 jobs were lost in my constituency in the recession of 1979-1981 as shipyards, steelworks and heavy engineering closed their doors.
“The certainties of the post-war job market, where sons followed fathers and grandfathers into the factories, plants and yards, were lost for good.
“Hartlepool is still adjusting in 2011 to the huge economic shocks of the 1980s and 1990s.
“And whilst we are still trying to deal with the wreckage and damage caused by the huge economic tidal waves of the 1980s and 1990s, another financial tsunami threatens the young people of Hartlepool once again.”
Mr Wright said the government needed to learn the “lessons of history” and called for a more “sophisticated and holistic” economy policy based on stimulating demand for the economy.
He finished his emotional speech by adding: “In my lifetime, a Conservative government abandoned a whole generation in my constituency.
“The rationale behind this was that such unemployment was a price worth paying.
“I implore the government not to make the same costly mistake again.”
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman has previously told the Mail that the government is determined to ensure all young people have the chance of work and that is why they are cutting the deficit to bring stability back to the economy in a bid to create jobs.