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Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to today’s Labour Market Statistics, said:
“Today’s fall in overall unemployment is welcome but beneath the headlines the worries are multiplying.
“There is now fresh evidence that Britain is becoming divided – long-term unemployment rose yet again, so did long-term youth unemployment and unemployment in two-thirds of England is higher than it was at time of the general election.
“Over a third of the unemployed have been out of work for over a year. These are precisely the people the Government’s flagship Work Programme were supposed to help. But the programme is in total gridlock because JobCentre staff have lost all faith in it. Now we’ve got long-term unemployment at nearly a million.
“I don’t think ministers should be complacent for a moment about the trend. There are real worries in the monthly figures. Youth unemployment and women’s unemployment are both higher than a month ago. That is why Labour called for a bank bonus tax to fund jobs for young people out of work.
“This failure is now becoming deep-set and it’s costing us a fortune. Long term unemployment and a rising claimant count is helping push up the welfare bill by an eye-watering £24 billion.
“Today’s figures also show Britain is simply not roaring back. Half of the jobs created since 2010 are part time and the squeeze on families is getting tighter and tighter. Prices are rising faster than earnings and yet the Government is cutting tax credits for working families while giving 8,000 millionaires a tax cut. That’s pushing thousands of hard-working people closer to the poverty line.”