Updated: Wednesday, 1st April 2020 @ 9:59am

‘All-time high’ unemployment figures are Labour’s fault, says Manchester Lib Dem MP

‘All-time high’ unemployment figures are Labour’s fault, says Manchester Lib Dem MP

By Dean Wilkins

A Manchester Lib Dem MP is pointing the finger at the previous government for 'all-time high' unemployment in the North West.

It was announced yesterday that unemployment reached a record high across the region, rising 26,000 to 319,000 in the last quarter. This was over half the total UK unemployment increase of 48,000.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Greater Manchester rose by almost 11,000 to 82,000, including 26,000 16-24-year-olds, which is up by 4,800. This takes the national number of out-of-work young people up to 1.04million, the highest since records began 20 years ago.

Withington’s MP John Leech said apprenticeships are the way forward, when questioned about the coalition’s plans for tackling the problem. He said: “This government has subsidised work placements and has already created more new apprentices in 18 months than the last one did in 13 years. We are aiming for 250,000 new apprenticeships by 2015. We are spending £1.4bn on the Regional Growth Fund.

“The current figures are disappointing and concerning. It is clear we are seeing the direct impact of an economic downturn around the world. Britain is not immune from the problems in Europe and it is having an impact on North West jobs.

“In Labour’s 13 years of power Youth Unemployment went up by 278,000.”

MP for Redditch Andrew Gwynne declared Labour’s plan of creating 100,000 much needed jobs for young people should be employed by the current government, saying that Ministers are ‘complacent and out of touch’.

Andrew Gwynne said: “These figures confirm what young people in Denton and Reddish already know – this Government is creating a jobless generation.

“Long term youth unemployment in Denton and Reddish is up 133.3% in the last year, yet the government has still not properly replaced Labour’s successful Future Jobs fund. Our young people are being left to pay the price for this government’s failure.

“Complacent and out of touch Ministers need to wake up to the jobs crisis they're responsible for and take urgent action now. They should adopt Labour’s five point plan for jobs immediately, including a tax on bankers’ bonuses to fund 100,000 much needed jobs for our young people.”

The only major rise in employment came from 60,000 people who went into part-time work. MP John Leech encouraged businesses to become more modern by taking on part-time workers. He said: “The old fashioned notion that jobs have to be full time is out of date. Many people want to get a work/life balance right, and this may mean part time work. Good employers need to be flexible.”

The national unemployment number rose by 48,000, meaning the North West represented over half the country’s figures.

The national unemployment rate went up to 8.4%, the highest for 17 years.

The records now reveal that 197,000 men and 122,000 women are jobless, with a combined increase of 57,000 since last year.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne claimed that the government had failed in the approach to combatting unemployment rates. He said: “Today’s figures make for grim reading for the millions of squeezed families desperate for good news on the economy. With unemployment at its highest rate since 1995 and long term youth unemployment doubling in the last year, ministers must now get a grip.

“The Government has been raising taxes and cutting spending too far and too fast and the results are now clear for all to see – they are failing on jobs and failing on the economy and the cost of that failure is an eye watering £158 billion of extra borrowing and over a million young people on the dole.

“It is painfully clear that the Government’s welfare to work programmes are not doing the job and the time for dithering is over - ministers must act now before a generation is left scarred by their failure.”