A COUNCIL is scrapping its charge for using a public computer in its libraries to help unemployed people look for jobs.

The charge, which is payable by anyone using a library computer to go online in the Gateshead area, is to be scrapped with immediate effect.

The decision was taken after the authority realised that the charge was proving a barrier to people looking for jobs or making a benefit claim online.

Both the £1 per session and the £3.50 annual subscription have been scrapped.

Councillor Angela Douglas, cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said: “In the current financial climate, it’s unusual for a council to be scrapping a charge, but this is important.

“More and more government business is done online these days, which means that anyone who has to carry out a job search as part of their unemployment claim, or anyone applying for universal credit or other benefits, has to do it online. Doing it face-to-face is no longer an option.

“Unfortunately, the government seems to assume that everyone has a computer or smart phone and we know this is not the case.

“Our library internet access therefore plays an absolutely crucial role in helping people to find a job or make benefit claims which they’d otherwise not be able to make.”