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Long-term unemployment must be prioritised

16 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Poverty, North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton has said that there must be a strategic response to the problem of long-term unemployment as well as a priority in tackling economic inactivity.

Ms Stanton said:

"There continue to be serious problems with both long-term unemployment and economic inactivity rates. North and West Belfast, Foyle, West Tyrone are again at the top of the list of constituencies with the highest numbers of people who are long-term unemployed. These also areas with high levels of economic inactivity and high levels of poverty and deprivation.

"We need a targeted strategic response to address the situation in these areas. The failure to develop a coherent anti-poverty strategy means that not only are we failing marginalised people today but that there will be even greater risks of people falling into the poverty trap tomorrow because of things like increasing energy costs and water charges.

"Jobs, job creation and investment are the key way to tackle poverty and long-term unemployment. Yet central government agencies responsible for tackling this problem such as Invest NI are failing in this and in their statutory equality duty. Figures from their latest Annual Report covering 2004 show that investment is not being targeted as a means of redressing poverty and long-term unemployment but is merely replicating patterns of discrimination and disadvantage.

"Older people, disabled people, lone parents, people in North and West Belfast, Derry and rural communities West of the Bann are more likely to live with the threat of poverty. The evidence is there. What is required is action and the political will to deliver a strategy that can tackle long-term unemployment." ENDS

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