THE number of young people who have been unemployed for more than six months has skyrocketed by 173 per cent since the turn of the year.
In January just 55 locals aged between 18 and 24 had been out of work and on Jobseekers Allowance for half a year.
That figure is now 150 - with the total number people in that age group on unemployment benefit sitting at 595.
That figure is lower than in nearby Hastings (965) but still represents a large chunk of the town’s 2,221 current residents who have not had a job for more than six months and get Jobseekers.
The bumper increase in long-term unemployment among the town’s young was highlighted in a recent study carried out by Eastbourne’s European MP, Peter Skinner, who was quick to lay the blame firmly at the feet of the Coalition Government – which he accuses of letting down those looking for a job.
Speaking to the Herald he said, “These depressing figures reveal the true extent of this Tory-led Government’s slash and burn policies.
“In the last year the UK economy has flatlined. The cuts are obviously hurting, but with growth remaining at a record low and unemployment hitting record highs - they don’t seem to be working. We need something done about this fast.
“Long-term youth unemployment in Eastbourne has shot-up 173 per cent this year, while thousands of hard-working local families face cuts to childcare and tax credits. Local women are especially hard hit, with over 5,000 losing out in changes to the state pension age.”
Those hard-hit families include 800 who have lost childcare funding, 10,400 who are seeing their tax credits cut and another 4,500 women hit by changes to the state pension.
However, youth unemployment is considered the most damning to Eastbourne’s hopes of weathering the recession – particularly coming shortly after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg praised the work being done creating apprenticeship schemes locally.
A scheme to find 100 placements in 100 days proved an overwhelming success, with more than 180 locals finding apprenticeships.
The majority of these fell into the very age bracket which has suffered such a spike in long-term unemployment.
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd, who pioneered the 100 day-long drive, admitted being fairly baffled by this week’s figures.
He said, “I do not know why it has gone up from 50 to 155 but I imagine that sort of spike is replicated over the last 10 years.”
The MP said new legislation introduced in June should act as a positive response to the increase – with extra support and incentives being offered to help long-term unemployed young people back into work.
He said that those who had been without a job for a long time and perhaps need extra help and training were often ‘parked’ on Jobseekers in favour of more employable people who had recently come onto the job market.
He added, “The overall figure for unemployed people aged 18 to 24 in Eastbourne has actually gone up a lot slower than a year ago. That mirrors what I am seeing out in Eastbourne and shows the town is pulling together.”