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Hundreds of thousands of people to spend second Christmas on the dole

Union says people's confidence is taking a hit

By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent

Hundreds of thousands of people are set to spend their second successive Christmas on the dole, according to a new study.

The TUC said 250,000 jobseeker's allowance claimants, and 700,000 jobless people who do not all claim the unemployment benefit, will still be out of work.

The union organisation said that although the number of long-term claimants fell in 2014, there was a rise in long-term youth unemployment last month, while the wider ILO measure of long-term unemployment is falling more slowly than the long-term unemployed claimant count.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "One Christmas out of work is hard enough, but by the second Christmas your savings will all be gone and your confidence has probably taken a significant hit.

"It's hard to bring some festive cheer to your family in that situation, especially for parents who want to make Christmas special for their children.

"If the government's Work Programme for long-term unemployed people had performed as well as the ministers said it was going to, there would be far fewer people facing a second Christmas on the dole.

"What's more, there has been a worrying rise in the proportion of long-term unemployed people not receiving any help at all.

"The Government should focus on providing long-term unemployed people with proper support to move back into work rather than blaming them for our unequal jobs recovery."

Meanwhile, the Public and Commercial Services union said an estimated £20 million was being withheld from unemployed and disabled people this month under the benefit sanctions regime.

The union, which represents workers in the Department for Work and Pensions, said the average amount being withheld was £250.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: "There is no evidence that stopping people's benefits improves their chances of finding long-term employment.

"Many are being punished for simply turning up late to an interview or refusing to work for free for a profitable company on one of the government's failing workfare schemes."

The Government maintains its employment policies are helping people find work, especially the long-term unemployed, and highlights the record number of people in work.

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