UNEMPLOYMENT figures in the region have increased, meaning more families faced a bleak start to 2012.
Figures released before Christmas showed that the number of people looking for work in the north east was the highest for 16 years.
More than 12,000 people joined the jobless ranks in the three months up to October – with the nationwide out-of-work total hitting 2.68m.
The region’s unemployment rate is 11.7 per cent, but there are fears that figure could rise further, especially with Rio Tinto Alcan expected to close its aluminium smelter in Lynemouth – putting 515 people out of work.
Youth and female unemployment also increased over the three months.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who is currently battling to save the Alcan site along with union leaders, says that his constituency is one of the worst for unemployment.
He is keen to see government intervention to help to not only save the Alcan plant, but also create more job opportunities in south east Northumberland.
Mr Lavery has once again brought up the issue in Parliament, saying during one debate on the latest unemployment figures: “Does my Honourable Friend agree that the unemployment statistics in Easington are very similar to those in Wansbeck?
“In my constituency, there is in excess of 30 people applying for each job vacancy, and that is intolerable.
“The Prime Minister has kept one of his promises: Before the election, he said that the north east would be hit the first and hit the hardest.”
Mr Lavery was backed by Labour colleague and Easington MP Grahame Morris, who said: “I share my Honourable Friend’s concerns, and that has certainly been the case.
“We are facing a worsening of the north-south divide.
“It is also the case that the north east has faced some of the worst increases in unemployment across the UK.”