SHOCKING figures reveal the amount of women out of work in the town has increased by nearly 50 per cent in just three years.
In May 2010 there were 926 women in Hartlepool claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, yet that figure has rose rapidly and last month 1,372 women in the town were out of work and claiming the benefit.
The 48 per cent increase means the number of unemployed women in Hartlepool is more than double the national average and significantly higher than the regional average.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright told the Mail he believes the Government isn’t doing enough to help women find work, while Hartlepool councillor Pam Hargreaves, who is also chair of a business forum for women has also raised concerns.
Mr Wright says through changes to the state pension, tax credits and benefits the Government is discriminating against women and instead says we should be “celebrating the contribution women make to our economy”.
Hartlepool councillor Pam Hargreaves, who is also chair of Women What Do, a business forum for women in the area, says she is “shocked and worried” by the figures and is now calling on the local authority and local businesses to support more women back into employment.
The number of female Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants peaked at 1,583 people in February this year, but has since dropped slightly each month as has the total claimant figure in the town.
But, it still means 4.7 per cent of women in the town were out of work last month, higher than the regional average of 3.2 per cent and the national average of 2.3 per cent.
Mr Wright said: “Women are often the rock both in the work place and at home and they can be the difference between paying the bills and not being able to pay the bills.
“I think about my own family, my mum and nana always both worked yet for a lot of women in the town now the opportunities aren’t being made available to them and it has to change.”
At a time when Mr Wright said the Government should be doing more to help women find work, he criticised the state pension changes which will see the state pension age rise to 66 by October 2020 for women born on or after April 6, 1953.
His concern was echoed by Coun Hargreaves who told the Mail: “Obviously it’s worrying.
“Everyone has found it difficult over the last few years in terms of the recession, but if women are adversely affected that’s not good.
“Women are just as capable as men at running businesses and holding down successful careers.
“We need to look at both the council and local businesses and support more women back into employment.”
More than 140 women are part of What Women Do, an example, says Coun Hargreaves, of how successful women can be in work and business in Hartlepool and the surrounding areas.
“We do have a lot of fantastic female role models who have set up their own business, hold down successful careers and who have been in work for a long period of time,” said Coun Hargreaves, who refers to herself as independent Labour, but is classed as independent by the council.
“But it is extremely difficult for many women to find work right now and these figures both shock and concern me.”