Surge in town’s jobless youngsters

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LONG TERM youth unemployment in Hastings and St Leonards has increased by 65 per cent since January, according to Government figures released on Wednesday.

The number of 16- to 24-year-olds claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance for more than six months has risen from 170 in January to 280 in October, just nine months later.

This compares to a 72 per cent increase in East Sussex.

Nationally, the increase in long-term youth unemployment has shot up by 84 per cent over the same period.

Andrew Batsford, project manager at Xtrax youth centre, said that the huge reduction in programmes aimed at this group due to government cuts such as the Back to Work scheme, has left many young people lacking the skills and support to get onto the employment ladder.

He said: “It is incredibly short-sighted of the government to cut employment programmes.

“From March, there has been a 70 per cent reduction in youth work in Hastings, and there is now no natural port of call for the unemployed.”

He added that the number of calls Xtrax, based in Harold Place, is receiving for careers advice, and especially from the parents of young people, has gone up dramatically.

“We are now by default the place to come for information.

“It is a huge responsibility.”

The figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of young people unemployed in the UK as a whole has now reached 1.02 million.