MICHAEL Dugher has welcomed the national fall in the headline rate of unemployment - but has highlighted that figures for Barnsley continue to get worse.

The latest unemployment figures show that the total number of people claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Barnsley jumped to 8,040 in February – a 14 per cent increase over the last two years and the first time it has risen above 8,000 since 1996.

Figures for youth unemployment are up again and long-term youth unemployment also remain high. The number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA in Barnsley is now 2,560 - up from 2,485 in January 2013.

More alarming is the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA for more than 12 months in Barnsley is now 520 – a massive increase of 205 per cent increase over the last two years.

"Long-term youth unemployment is a major problem," he said. "When you’ve been unemployed for more than a year it has a hugely detrimental effect on your future chances of getting a job. You lose that routine of getting up in the mornings and there is lots of evidence it massively impacts upon your self-confidence, and even your health."