Small fall in jobless 

THE number of people claiming jobless benefit has fallen in Hartlepool as council bosses hope to see improvements in the economy.

The latest government figures show the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the town fell from 4,728 in November to 4,715 in December.

Hartlepool has 8.1 per cent of the working age population claiming the benefit, which leaves the town joint second with Middlesbrough and behind Hull for the proportion of claimants.

Town mayor Stuart Drummond said the recent bid by the four Tees Valley local authorities of Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, for the Government’s City Deal initiative could see the powers devolved locally that could boost job creation.

He told the Mail: “It’s been pretty static for the last few months, which in the current climate is a good thing. If we can get a bit of stability in the jobs market it’s a start.

“There are not enough jobs to fulfil the need, until we can get some employers into the town, which is not going to be in the near future, I cannot see much change.”

He added: “There are all kinds being put in place to try to improve the economy in the long term, but it takes time.

“We have just applied with the other Tees Valley local authorities for the new City Deal scheme, which will help deliver some of the aspirations for job creation, but it is a slow process.”

It comes as the town remains one of the worst nationwide for the number of people who have been claiming jobless benefit for more than 12 months, as reported by the Mail earlier this month.

The latest figures also show that in Easington there was a fall from 3,463 in November to 3,406 last month.

Sedgefield saw a fall from 2,643 in November to 2,630 in December.

And the Stockton North constituency, which includes Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, saw a rise from 4,162 in November to 4,173 in December.

Unemployment in the North-East between September and November fell by 10,000, 9.1 per cent, 119,000.

Nationwide, unemployment fell by 37,000 in the latest quarter to just under 2.5m, the lowest since spring 2011.

It was the 10th consecutive fall and was coupled with another cut in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, which was down by 12,100 last month to 1.56m, the lowest since June 2011.