TWICE as many youngsters are claiming unemployment benefits in a North-East town compared with the rest of the country, new figures show.

A report for Darlington Borough Council's children and young people scrutiny committee has found the claimant count for the 18-24 year old group in the town is more than double the national average.

The report says although employers are still taking on young worjers, there are some concerns about "work readiness" of youngsters - particularly around attitude and life experience.

The August 2017 benefit claimant count showed that 6.9 per cent of Darlington 18 to 24 year olds were claiming unemployment benefits compared to 4.8 per cent in the North-East and 2.8 per cent nationally.

This equates to 530 young people and is up almost half a per cent from August - an increase of 40 people.

The report found 92 per cent of Year 12 aged youngsters and 90 per cent of Year 13 youngsters are in learning - an increase of two and three respectively compared with the year previously.

Apprenticeship starts for under 19s in Darlington rose from 310 in 2014/15 to 350 in 2015/16, and are currently at 280 starts from August 2016 to April 2017.

For the 19-24 age group numbers rose from 380 to 430 with the 2016/17 part year figure standing at 330.

The 2016/17 employment data for Darlington shows that 75 per cent of the working age population are in employment, compared with 74 per cent in the whole of Great Britain and 70 per cent in the North-East.

However the percentage of 16 to 64 year olds on out of work benefits is 3.6 per cent - which is above the North East average of 3.2 per cent and the national average of just below two per cent.

The 18-24 year old claimant count at 6.9 per cent is almost double that of the all age claimant count of 3.6 per cent

The report says: "There are complex factors that impact on youth participation and employment sometimes beyond the control of the council’s influence.

"But where possible initiatives are put in place to encourage and support young people into education, employment or training."

The findings of the report will be discussed by the children and young people scrutiny committee on Monday, October 30 at 9.30am.