Michael Dugher MP demands action

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South Yorkshire MP Michael Dugher has called for more government investment locally, after the latest jobless figures for Barnsley showed a “worrying rise.”

The total number of unemployed claimants in Mr Dugher’s Barnsley East constituency in February was 1,405 – up by 80 people on January. The official government figures for the constituency were in sharp contrast to the national trend that showed a fall in the unemployment rate to 4.7 per cent.

However, despite the fall, wage growth has slowed to 2.3 per cent from 2.6 per cent in the previous three-month period, according to the Office for National Statistics. And In the latest figures on low-paid areas, Yorkshire and Humber is the region with the highest proportion of low-paid jobs. The House of Commons Library found the average weekly pay for a full-time employee in Barnsley East was £430, £100 less than the national average of £530 a week.

Just last year, the Bank of England described the situation as a ‘lost decade’ of earnings growth, in which even employment is often not enough to lift households out of poverty. This level of wage stagnation and in-work poverty even led the Governor of the Bank of England to compare current conditions to those experienced in the 1860s.

Mr Dugher said: “The latest unemployment figures show a worrying rise locally. The government talks a lot about the Northern Powerhouse, but it fails to back up that talk by investing in Barnsley and across the region.

“Theresa May has done the right thing with her U-turn over the government’s £2 billion tax raid on the self-employed. She must now do far more to help those looking for work in the north if she wants to avoid deepening the North-South divide.”