Council chief calls for investment to boost employment in Hartlepool

Christopher Akers-Belcher
Christopher Akers-Belcher

A COUNCIL chief says more work and investment is needed to help the unemployed achieve quality jobs.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher welcomed a gradual reduction in the town’s unemployment statistics over the last six months that have seen around 500 people taken off Jobseekers’ Allowance.

But Coun Akers-Belcher believes many of those people who have found work will be in low paid or part time jobs only.

He said more needs to be done to give young people and the long-term unemployed the right skills to find better paid jobs.

The number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Hartlepool fell in June to 4,353 compared to 4,657 at the end of March.

But that still means 7.4 per cent of the working population is unemployed which is higher than the North-East rate at 5.1 per cent and more than twice the national average of 3.5 per cent.

Since January the number of claimants in Hartlepool has fallen by 488 when the jobless rate was 8.3 per cent.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “A lot of people are getting into employment, but it’s low paid or part-time, so the figures aren’t representative at all of the impact on poverty in Hartlepool.

“We need a great deal more investment in improving the skills of young people or people who have never worked so that real employment with good quality jobs is an option.

Coun Akers-Belcher said Hartlepool Borough Council was working with businesses across Teesside, unions and Local Employment Partnership (LEP) to boost job hunters’ prospects.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “Progress has been painfully slow. I’m particularly concerned about the need to tackle youth unemployment, we still have the highest rate of anywhere in the Tees Valley.”

Hartlepool is also part of the Tees Valley City Deal which could see 27,000 jobs protected or created in the next nine years.

In the Easington parliamentary constituency, the jobless figure was 3,159 for June (5.9 per cent) compared to 3,254 the previous month.

Claimants also fell in the Stockton North constituency which covers Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard. In June, a total of 3,905 people claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance (6.5 per cent) down from 4,026 in May.

Sedgefield’s June figure was 2,307, compared to 2,413 in May accounting for 3.5 per cent of the working age population.