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The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“Today’s figures show a national surge in unemployment as employers prepared for the end of the furlough scheme. The North East region now has the highest rate of unemployment in the country which is extremely concerning – especially as this month’s data does not yet take account the impact of the current tighter restrictions.

“The unemployment figure for the North East region, including the North East LEP and the Tees Valley LEP areas, was at 6.7 per cent at the end of September, compared to 4.8 per cent nationally. The North East LEP area has seen the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits increase by over 60 per cent since March. A big concern is the large rise in younger people aged 16-24 not in employment across the UK.

“Our businesses continue to work hard to keep their teams together, but we are faced with a stop-start recovery, where ongoing support will be critical for business and for jobs. We welcome government’s recent decision extend the support available to the economy and will be monitoring its impact closely as we move into the winter.

“Strategic leadership and a strong partnership with government is more critical than ever – we need to ensure that support for businesses is reflective of the need of our region.”

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Lucy Winskell and Helen Golightly