KATE OSBORNE: Now is the time for investment and an end to austerity

Conservatives will tell you that they are the party of jobs and growth, provides this country with high levels of employment, and the number of people in work is at a record high.
Unemployment is a huge concern.Unemployment is a huge concern.
Unemployment is a huge concern.

I don’t know which planet they are on but if you take a close look at unemployment in this area it paints a rather different picture.

Unemployment in the North East has risen for a fifth consecutive month, increasing the gap with the rest of the UK. New figures compiling unemployment rates for the three months up to the end of last November show that joblessness had risen to 80,000 in the North East, a rate of 6.2% compared to the national rate of just 3.8%.

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According to official figures from the House of Commons Library, the number of actual claimants of unemployment-related benefits in the Jarrow constituency in December 2019 was 2,375 - almost a 10 per cent increase over the past 12 months.

The increase in unemployment is worrying, but what’s equally concerning is that many of the tens of thousands of people who are employed across South Tyneside and the wider region are in low paid, part-time, or insecure jobs, or on a zero-hours contracts.

The Tories continue their wicked cuts to in-work benefits, on top of the cruel bedroom tax and the benefits cap, which have left many proud, working people with nothing, and little choice but to turn to a food bank just to survive.

The government’s handling of their controversial Universal Credit programme has been a complete disaster, leaving many families with less money to live on, rent arrears spiralling out of control, and little hope for the future.

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Over the past decade the Tories have continually trumpeted their record on jobs but they’ve falsified the employment figures, downplaying the true extent of the employment crisis that grips this country.

Each and every worker deserves a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work and the people of this area must not be forced on the scrapheap in the same way they were under Thatcher in the 1980s.

The Tories are driving this country into the ground by taking us back to the Victorian times.

Millions of families on low pay struggle daily and it’s appalling that people put in a full week’s work yet remain on the breadline, with jobs increasingly low-skilled and insecure.

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We desperately want to end austerity and end the disgraceful inequality the Tories have inflicted on so many people in this country and I, alongside my Labour colleagues in Westminster, will continue to keep up the fight.

We’re being left behind by a Tory Government who continually use employment figures to mask serious inequalities in the labour market, such as stagnating wages, insecure employment, and opportunities shaped by your circumstances rather than talent.

Now is the time for investment, an end to austerity, and an end to Universal Credit.

We have such talented people in this area and it’s about time they were given the same opportunities as everyone else.