Figures given to me by the House of Commons Library state that the percentage of claimants for Universal Credit in my constituency for August 2019 stands at 7.2% of our economically active population (16-64). This compares starkly nationally, with an average of 3.7% claiming Universal Credit, almost double.
I see this not as a failure of people in Oldham, I know our town is full to the brim of hardworking working-class people and that we are proud of what we do. However, I do see this as a failure of our Government (If we even still have one) to look after the needs of our regions and former industrial areas and its people.
We are told that this Government has accomplished a record high employment rate, though they fail to acknowledge that this not through an increase of sustainable and reliable jobs, it is through forcing people to work unreliable, low-paid work, with some mothers even being forced into sex work to pay their way.
It fails to address the reasons for a rise in the Universal Credit claimant rate in places like Oldham, and with a new Secretary of State of month or so, it is easy to see why.
This can’t continue. We need urgent reform to the Department for Work and Pensions and a complete shift in focus from stat padding to a genuine focus on Job creation and helping people into finding good jobs that suit their needs, be it shift work, office or manual work.
A Labour Government would start this by abolishing Universal Credit and fixing our unemployment system so that the system doesn’t penalise people for being out of work, but actively supports them into finding and keeping jobs, while providing support for those most in need.