MPs cautious over jobs boost

A job hunter looks at vacancies in the Jobcentre.
A job hunter looks at vacancies in the Jobcentre.
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Plunging numbers of people claiming unemployment benefits across all areas of Sheffield have been welcomed by MPs – but action to tackle low wages and zero-hours contracts has been called for in the wake of the figures.

The number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance year-on-year dropped the most sharply in Penistone and Stocksbridge - by 32 per cent for September 2014 against 2013.

Claimants dropped 29 per cent in south east Sheffield, followed by 28 per cent in Hallam, 27 per cent in Brightside and Hillsborough, and 24 per cent in Sheffield Central.

Heeley saw the lowest year-on-year drop, at 21 per cent down.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “Any decrease in unemployment is welcome, but too many new jobs are low paid, low-skilled and insecure. We need secure jobs, with the hours people want and the salary they need to make work pay.”

Nick Clegg, MP for Hallam, said: “These latest figures show our city is bouncing back stronger than ever after experiencing a tough time when our economy crashed under Labour. What’s particularly encouraging is that great northern powerhouses like Sheffield are leading this economic recovery - seeing huge improvements in our local infrastructure, more investment available for local businesses to expand and support for taking on record numbers of apprentices.”

Since 2010, the number of people claiming JSA has dropped across Sheffield, including 933 fewer in Brightside and Hillsborough and 905 fewer in Central.

Heeley MP Meg Munn said: “Although I welcome the latest figures which show a clear decrease in the number of JSA claimants across Heeley, they do not paint the whole picture. There are increasing numbers of people in low paid, uncertain work, at the mercy of zero-hours contracts, relying on tax credits to give them a decent wage.”

Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith said: “The falls in unemployment are of course welcome. However, figures also show working people are continuing to see their pay fall far behind the cost of living. Since 2010 working people have seen their real wages fall by over £1,600.”

Hillsborough MP David Blunkett said: “Any improvement has to be welcomed, and I would be even more pleased if it were not for the fact that it still places the constituency as 17th worst in the country.

“Zero-hours contracts, part-time and temporary contracts unfortunately hide the truth. Which is that many people have had their living standards slashed and my constituents have borne a disproportionate share of the coalition’s austerity measures.”