Job Centre PlusHoughton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson, today (Friday, 29th July 2011) shadowed staff at Houghton Jobcentre Plus to learn about their work, highlight the challenges they face and the difficulties local people have in finding work.

The latest figures from the House of Commons Library show in June 2011 there were 2,459 people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in the constituency of Houghton and Sunderland South. 1,100 of these JSA claimants were under 25. However, there were only 606 Jobcentre Plus vacancies available to local people in June -; meaning 4 people were chasing every Jobcentre Plus vacancy.

Bridget also shadowed staff advising lone parents and administering crisis loans from the Social Fund. Under the government’s proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill this fund will be abolished. The government is also proposing to cut support to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Macmillan Cancer support have already highlighted that this could mean up to ‘7,000 cancer patients’ losing up to £94 per week in financial support.

Commenting on her visit, Bridget said:

“I want to thank the staff of Houghton Jobcentre Plus for allowing me to spend the morning with them. It was an opportunity to get a better understanding of their work and the challenges my constituents face in a difficult jobs market.

“What has been made clear from my visit is the government need to provide additional support to help get people in to work. Locally, we have 4 people chasing every vacancy -; it’s clear the government’s plans are not providing the growth in private sector jobs we were promised. The government need to explain how it will address the difference between it promises and the reality on the ground.

“I will continue to work with organisations supporting people into work and will further pressure the government to provide the support local people deserve.”

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