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Second dole Christmas for 300,000

Almost 300,000 people will spend their second successive Christmas on the dole after a big increase in long-term unemployment, according to a new study.

The TUC said the number of people out of work for at least 12 months has increased by 35,000 since last year, with the sharpest rises in Scotland and London.

Eight of the 10 local authorities with the fastest increase in long-term claimants are in Scotland, said the union umbrella organisation.

The number of people spending their third successive Christmas on the dole has increased by a third on last year, with 75,000 people on Jobseeker's Allowance for at least two years.

The TUC warned that long-term unemployment hits people's career prospects and health and said the Government should do more to target help at those out of work the longest.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "As people gear up for the festive break, there won't be much cheer for the quarter of a million people who are spending their second successive Christmas on the dole.

"The shocking rise in long-term unemployment is not just a personal tragedy for the families and friends of those unable to find jobs, it can affect entire communities and carries a huge economic cost.

"What's most concerning is that as the dole queues mount, the Government's response has been to brand many of those struggling for work as scroungers.

"The TUC is calling on ministers to make a fresh start in 2012 and focus on tackling our mounting jobs crisis. The UK - one of the richest countries in the world - must not have the shame of millions of its own citizens facing poverty at Christmas with little or no pay."

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