Page last updated at 08:31 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 09:31 UK

Long-term benefit claims on rise

The number of people claiming has risen

Almost 3.4 million people have claimed benefits for more than two years, government figures have shown.

The number of long-term claimants went up by more than a quarter of a million, the Department for Work and Pensions figures showed.

The highest concentration was in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan.

In all, 3,352,820 people claimed benefits such as incapacity or disability, income support and jobseeker's allowance for the period.

Merthyr Tydfil - 20.7%
Easington - 19.8%
Blaenau Gwent - 19.5%
Neath Port Talbot - 18.4%
Knowsley - 18.2%
Liverpool - 17.6%
Caerphilly - 17.2%
Rhondda, Cynon, Taf - 17.1%
Glasgow City - 17.1%
Middlesbrough - 15.4%

Bereavement benefit, carer's allowance and disability living allowance were also included in the figures.

Conservative Party analysis showed the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in the group rose by almost 40% since 1999, to more than 200,000 people.

According to figures from May 2007, there are more than 100 local authority areas where at least one in 10 people claimed benefits for two years or more.

Of the highest rates, five were in Wales, two in north-east England, two in north-west England and one in Scotland.

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