MP blasts 'complacent' Tories on jobs

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 29 August 2016

OLDHAM East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has hit out at "Tory complacency" over the latest unemployment figures, saying they mask an increase of low-paid and insecure jobs.

The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has also pointed out regional discrepancies in the labour market and worrying employment figures for disabled people and ethnic minorities.

Last week's employment figures showed there are a record 31.75 million people now in work - up by more than 600,000 in the past year.

The number of out of work claimants in Oldham in July was 4,200, compared with 4,465 in June.

But the Labour MP said: "It's welcome that there has been a fall in unemployment.

"However, you don't have to scratch far below the surface to see that under the Tories our economy is over-reliant on low-paid, insecure work, with sluggish pay growth and employment rates that are regionally unbalanced.

"The Tories promised to act on zero-hours contracts, but the crisis is getting worse with 800,000 people on these contracts, an increase of 100,000 in a single year.

"And 4.5 million people in England and Wales are in insecure work, with 1.4 million on temporary contracts and variable shift patterns. The Tories' complacency has overseen an era of low pay and stagnating wages, with workers' real wages 10 per cent lower than they were in 2007.

"And for some groups, such as disabled people, the employment gap is actually increasing. Disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people."

The Office for National Statistics' figures show that for Quarter 2 of 2016 47.9 per cent of working-age disabled people were in employment, compared with 80.1 per cent of working-age non-disabled people, a 32.2 per cent disability employment gap.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission also found an employment rate of 62.8 per cent for all minority groups, compared with a national rate of 74.5 per cent for the population as a whole.

Mrs Abrahams, who set up the Oldham Fairness Commission, wants the Government to adopt Labour's call for a full reversal of the cuts to Universal Credit that will result in 2.5 million working families being left over £2,100 a year worse off and invest in infrastructure development.

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