Families in Birmingham face a miserable Christmas after another bleak set of unemployment statistics showed 50,541 people are on the dole in the city, Labour has claimed.
Labour MPs in the city clashed with Ministers as they debated the latest set of unemployment figures, which showed more than ten per cent of the city’s population aged 16 to 64 are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
This is up by 4,789 people compared to a year ago.
But the new figures did suggest the unemployment problem may be getting slowly better – because the number of claimants has fallen by more than 600 compared to last month, when there were 51,073 claimants in the city.
Nationally, unemployment has reached a 17-year high after another 128,000 people became unemployed, taking the total to 2.64 million.
The plight of families hit by unemployment was the focus of a House of Commons debate led by Birmingham MP Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), who is responsible for Labour’s employment policies in his role as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.
He warned: “When families get together this Christmas, there will be plenty of anxious talk about the year ahead.”
Black Country MP David Winnick (Lab Walsall North) told Mr Byrne: “Will he bear it in mind that that situation is very much like what happened in the 1980s? People in their late 40s, let alone those in their 50s, were made redundant when there were two major recessions. Many of them were never to work again.”
But Lib Dem Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb told MPs that the number of people in private sector jobs has risen by more than half a million since the last election.
Business Minister Mark Prisk (Con) said that the economy of the West Midlands had suffered under Labour.
Referring to GVA figures showing the region’s economic output he said: “In 1975, GVA was ahead in the West Midlands - above the national average. In the first decade of this century, from 2000 to 2008, the increase in GVA per head in the region was the lowest of any part of the country.”