Unemployment in Devon increases by 12% in a year

The number of people out of work and claiming benefits in Devon has increased by more than 12% in a year, new official figures say.

The county, including the Plymouth and Torbay unitary areas, saw an increase from 17,785 claimants in November 2010 to 19,930 in November 2011.

Unions said the figures showed that the economy was not improving sufficiently.

The government said welfare reforms would ensure people got the training and skills they needed for local jobs.

'Encourage optimism'

Nigel Costley, from the TUC in the South West, said the figures showed more decreases in job security.

He said: "An economy based on decent levels of pay, good productivity and good performance, that's the vision for Devon I thought we were developing.

"But it now seems that the future is going to be based on low pay, insecurity and high levels of unemployment, especially among young people."

Devon County Council said that it had been targeting unemployment where it happened, in places such as Okehampton, which saw hundreds people out of work after major local employers laid off staff.

Robert Wiseman Dairies announced in January that 69 jobs were to go with the closure of its Okehampton plant in April, before Polestar Foods laid off 232 people two weeks later.

After going into administration in March, Browne's Chocolates shed 20 jobs.

Browne's and Polestar later restarted production, but on a smaller scale than previously.

County councillor Will Mumford said: "We need to do everything we can at a local level to remove the barriers to growth, to enable developments to proceed and to encourage a sense of optimism in the economy.

"However, that's much more easily said than done."

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