The number of people depending on Jobseeker’s Allowance reached the highest level last month since new Labour took office, official figures showed on Wednesday.
The claimant count shot up by 23,500 to hit 1.64 million, the highest figure since April 1997.
Figures for the long-term unemployed, defined as people out of work for over a year, also reached a new high under the incumbent government.
It increased by 37,000 to 663,000 in the final quarter of 2009.
While the number of job vacancies rose by 49,000 in the three months to January, the figure of 479,000 job vacancies was still down 24 per cent on the previous year.
And Left Economics Advisory Panel spokesman Andrew Fisher warned that these figures may have been boosted by a rise in insecure temporary contracts and part-time vacancies.
He stressed that “for millions of people, the misery of recession is still being felt – acutely.”
The claimant count rise followed a recent admission by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that jobcentres were “largely unprepared” to help the thousands of people finding themselves out of work.
In a report commenting on the findings of research into jobcentres across Britain, the DWP said: “All the observed offices were perceived to be understaffed, strained further by high staff turnover, and recruitment was ongoing.”
A Public and Commercial Services Union spokesman said that new Labour’s policy of slashing jobcentre positions prior to the recession had put its members under a “tremendous amount of pressure to deliver the best service possible.”
And he added that those cuts had “left an incapacity in the system to deal with helping people to get into work.”
Taken from Morning Star
Also see the BBC News report