According to the latest statistics, the rate of unemployment across the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 1975. However, the people of Bishop Auckland constituency are not feeling the benefits of this national trend, Helen argues.
In a statement announcing the national figures, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey said: “the UK’s vibrant jobs market is benefiting people across the board.” A claim that Helen would challenge.
The Bishop Auckland MP said: “the government keeps crowing about a stronger economy, but this does not reflect the reality for many people in my constituency, and others like it in the North East.
“This month, the rate of people claiming Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance in my constituency was almost double the national rate, and has increased by 21% since last year. This doesn’t sound like opportunities across the board to me.”
The claimant rate in Bishop Auckland is 4.7%, compared with 2.8% nationally, and is based on the number of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit who are required to actively look for work. These figures are based on DWP numbers, while the employment rate reported by the Office for National Statistics (used by the government) is based on other sources, including estimates from survey data. As such, the two sets of figures are not directly comparable.
Helen wants to see a shift away from viewing unemployment as simply a metric, focusing on the people behind the numbers: “Instead of broad-brush statistics, I’d like to see real government support for businesses in Bishop Auckland constituency, and quality employment opportunities for my constituents.
“I am actively campaigning for this change in my work as an MP – raising awareness in Parliament of the potential geothermal energy has to create a new green industry in Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor, and standing up for key employers in our town centres through the Labour Towns campaign.”
Helen recently led a debate in the House of Commons on Geothermal Energy, an overlooked renewable energy source which draws heat energy from former mining works. Helen reasoned that a new industry based on geothermal energy has the potential to raise employment levels significantly in the area.
She is also one of many MPs and councillors involved in the Labour Towns campaign, an initiative which promotes a fairer deal for towns and their employing businesses, public services and amenities.