A third claim benefits

ALMOST a third of young people in Wigan are claiming jobless benefits, a union has claimed.

Latest unemployment figures from the GMB union shows 31.5 per cent of unemployed claimants in the borough were aged 18 to 24.

Wigan’s unemployment level is higher than Oldham (31.4 per cent), Bury and St Helens (30.2 per cent), Knowsley (30 per cent), Liverpool (25 per cent) and Warrington (25.4 per cent), with 2,585 out of 8,215 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in the borough being aged 18 to 24 for the month of December.

Only Halton (32.4 per cent) Wirral (32.2 per cent), Rochdale (31.9 per cent) and Tameside (31.7 per cent) were higher than Wigan.

Paul McCarthy, GMB regional secretary for the North West, said that in reality the jobless figures could be twice as high.

He said: “In the North West there are nearly 52,000 young workers aged 18 to 24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

“When you add to that number the rest of the young people not in jobs but seeking work, the real number is more than double that figure.

“In the UK as a whole the number of young workers aged under 24 seeking work is nearly a million. Young workers are the real economic victims of this bankers’ recession.”

For the North West region as a whole there were 172,535 claimants of all ages in December 2010. Of these, 51,115 claimants (29.6 per cent) were aged 18 to 24. For the UK as a whole there were 1,420,125 claimants of all ages in December 2010.

In Wigan, dozens of young adults struggling to find work have been thrown a career lifeline.

Pathways Community Interest Company is offering jobs to up to 90 local people aged between 18 and 24. They are only on a six-month contract but they receive a wage and gain both valuable work experience and life skills.

Through the Future Jobs Fund, Pathways has been able to offer government-funded employment opportunities to 392 18 -24-year-olds who have been seeking Job Seekers Allowance, living within Greater Manchester and Cheshire.