Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Unemployed Are 'Left to Rely on Council Help'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Unemployed Are 'Left to Rely on Council Help'

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter rachel.wearmouth@ncjmedia.co.uk

COUNCILS are doing more to help unemployed people than the Government as data shows people are "falling through the cracks".

The Local Government Association (LGA) has made the claim as the North East shoulders the country's highest unemployment rate (9.1%) and as its research shows there has been an alarming 28% increase in the number of unemployed people not claiming benefits in the last 18 months.

While Government data does not reveal the full extent of the problem, the LGA says the situation is leaving local authorities to pick up the pieces.

The LGA has praised North East councils for working with employers, charities, schools, colleges and housing associations, and says schemes are offering one-to-one mentoring, training, work placements and apprenticeships at a crucial time.

LGA chairman David Sparks said the capacity for councils to play this role, however, is under threat as all parties eye further cuts. He said: "Unemployment is falling, but the headlines hide the plight of our most vulnerable residents who are falling through the cracks.

"Too many are let down by national job schemes which are unable to identify or help them because they have not signed on at their local Jobcentre Plus.

"Councils across the country are desperate to ensure no one is left behind and have sought to support those being forgotten by these national services by using their local knowledge, expertise and connections with local organisations and services to target their hardest-toreach residents."

Council leaders say national schemes aim to simply shift people from the benefits queue and that approach is damaging for some of the most vulnerable, such as young or disabled people.

Leader of Newcastle City Council Coun Nick Forbes said the news was more evidence that the Government must devolve more powers to the North East. …

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