Unemployment rises to 2.1 mill

By politics.co.uk staff

Unemployment has reached 2.1 million, according to the latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics.

The number of people made unemployed in the three months to February was 177,000.

That means nearly 2,000 people are being axed every day.

The UK now has an unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent, the highest level since 1997

Public sector debt for 2008/09 hit £90 billion.

“We’re trying to provide more and more help for people,” employment minister Tony McNulty told the BBC.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said: “Behind these statistics are the shattered lives of millions.

“Labour have reached another grim milestone with unemployment now higher than when they came to power.

“This government are sleepwalking through this unemployment crisis recklessly casting millions of people adrift.”

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb said: “Young people are in danger of becoming the lost generation of this recession.

“It is deeply worrying that they are increasingly becoming economically inactive and disillusioned with the system that’s supposed to help them.”

Alan Tomlinson, partner at licensed insolvency practitioners Tomlinsons, said: “The impact of the recession on smaller businesses is especially severe. Company failures in this vital sector are still increasing and are likely to do so for some time yet, putting more and more people out of work.

“Sadly, these appalling unemployment figures will get much, much worse before they get better – there’s still a lot of pain in the pipeline.”

The figures come just before chancellor Alistair Darling presents his Budget to parliament.