By Claire West

The Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) is calling on the government to stop sacking temporary Jobcentre Plus workers as unemployment figures hit a 17 year high.

Ten thousand casual workers have been finished by Jobcentre Plus in the past few months — at a time when they are needed to help other people find work.

There are 7,000 more casuals in the Jobcentre Plus who PCS says should be made permanent staff.

Jane Aitchison, President of PCS in the Department of Work and Pensions, said:

“They are letting these people go every week. They end up on the dole themselves when they have the expertise to help others find jobs.

“All the casuals should be given permanent jobs and more staff should be taken on to help deal with the rise in unemployment.

“At one point last year the deficit was £4 billion less than predicted because my members in Jobcentre Plus were finding new jobs for the jobless quicker than expected. That shows the real social and economic value of having more experienced, motivated staff in Jobcentres.”

Today’s figures reveal that UK unemployment rose by 27,000 in the three months to the end of January to 2.53 million jobless people - the highest since 1994.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate was now 8%, the highest since 1996.

Another record high was reached in the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds, up by 0.8% to 20.6%.