The proportion of people claiming out of work benefits in Hartlepool has hit its highest level in three years.
New figures from the Government show there were 3,325 claimants in the town last month, equivalent to 5.8 per cent of the working age population, classed as 16-64-years-old.
That is almost twice the North East regional average of 3.2 per cent and nearly three times the national figure of two per cent.
It is the highest percentage since April 2014, when the figure was 5.9 per cent, and significantly higher than Middlesbrough’s rate of 4.8 per cent, which is the second highest in the region.
Candidates in next month’s General Election UKIP candidate Phillip Broughton said a two-strand approach was required: “We need a welfare system that rewards people for working and we need to help some of our industries that have been really struggling,” he said.
“If I am the MP, I will be pushing for the Government to give short-term loans to industries like fishing and steel that can give some impetus to our industrial base.”
Lib Dem Andy Hagon told the Mail: “Since the start of the year we can see a significant increase in the number of claimants in Hartlepool, while the North East as a whole has remained fairly constant.
“Again, another example of how Labour and the Conservatives have forgotten about Hartlepool.
“But as MP for Hartlepool, I promise to bang the drum for our town and try to attract well paid jobs here - we deserve them.”
Labour’s Mike Hill said: “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Hartlepool has shot up since the start of 2017 and is now nearly three times the rate for the rest of the country.
“This is more evidence that the Conservatives are failing working people in Hartlepool and failing to support local businesses to create jobs and growth in our town.
“Hartlepool needs a local MP who will stand up for working families and fight for local investment in skills and infrastructure to help businesses create good quality jobs.
“As a citizen of Hartlepool and the only local candidate in this election, I will fight for everyone in our town to have access to meaningful employment and the opportunity to build a good career.”
Conservative candidate Carl Jackson said: “Although disappointed by the recent rise in the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in Hartlepool, I am pleased that unemployment has fallen by two per cent here in the last four years.
“Unemployment in Hartlepool remains above the regional average, but since 2013 has fallen faster than in the North East as a whole.
“As someone who runs a business and creates jobs, I want to bring jobs and investment to the town by promoting Hartlepool as a world leader for offshore energy support and decommissioning, by ensuring that the UK leaves the EU Common Fisheries Policy, and by making the town a centre for technical training to attract the best talent from across the region and the country.”