PEOPLE in a North-East town are "scared for the future", a new MP warned in his maiden speech in the House of Commons.

Andy McDonald, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough, said more than ten people were chasing every job, as he attacked those who branded the jobless as "scroungers"

The MP - elected last month - argued it was "never acceptable for an individual to reject the genuine opportunity of work", but insisted that was not the reality for most.

He said: "It seems to be increasingly part of the accepted orthodoxy that those who suffer the indignity of unemployment, do so as a result of the life style choice that they make. That is a gross and offensive misrepresentation.

"In a town where currently more than ten people are chasing each and every job that comes along, it is a most cruel sleight and insult to say that somehow all such people are, by definition, scroungers."

Urging critics to "tread carefully", he vowed to stand up for "working families who are having their budgets squeezed and young people who are struggling to find their first job".

And he added: "In recent weeks, I've talked to thousands of people in Middlesbrough and people are anxious, scared for the future of their family.

"But to make matters worse, there is a sense that some politicians are determined in setting community against community and neighbour against neighbour."