Christmas on dole again for 400,000
More than 400,000 people will spend their second Christmas on the dole, with long-term unemployment no longer limited to a few blackspots, according to a new report.
The TUC said 149 of the 232 local authority areas across the UK had at least 1,000 long-term unemployment claimants.
In London, 27 out of 33 boroughs have over 1,000 people spending their second festive season in a row out of work, the study found. Long-term unemployment, counting those out of work for at least a year, has been increasing despite falls in the jobless total.
More than 250,000 people aged between 16 and 24 have been out of work for over a year, badly hitting their career prospects, said the TUC.
General secretary Brendan Barber said: "While the recent fall in unemployment has brought some seasonal cheer, it's very concerning that 400,000 people are set to spend their second successive Christmas on the dole, with many more out of work and unable to claim.
"There is never a good time to be out of work but it's particularly tough at Christmas when there is a lot of pressure to buy presents for the kids and big family reunions that add to food and transport costs.
"These long periods of unemployment not only carry a harsh financial penalty, they can knock people's confidence and cause permanent damage to their career. With the proportion of unemployed people out of work for 12 months at a 15-year high, the Government should make tackling long-term unemployment a top priority.
"We need to see more investment in getting people back to work so that fewer people have to spend their next Christmas on the dole again."
Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "As the end of the year approaches, we have more people in employment than ever before, the private sector is creating far more jobs than are being lost in the public sector, and long-term unemployment has fallen, with the number of people out of work for more than six months down by 62,000, according to recent figures.
"But we are not complacent - we know there are still lots of challenges ahead. That is why the new year will see the Government continuing to work hard to help those people who want to get on in life by giving them the support they need to find work."