Prime Minister David Cameron has his head stuck in the sand and is ignoring the huge increase in working families having to rely on Housing Benefit to pay their rent, according to Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Alex challenged him over the creation of generally low-paid, part-time and zero-hours contract jobs that do not pay employees enough to cover even basic necessities such as rent.
Labour’s Stockton North MP raised the issue in the House of Commons after learning that unemployment amongst those aged 16-64 across the North East increased to 10.3% compared to the previous quarter. At the same time, the employment rate for the region remains the lowest in the country at just 69.2%.
During Questions to the Prime Minister, Alex asked whether the 61% increase in the number of working families claiming Housing Benefit across the Stockton Borough was symptomatic of an unsustainable recovery founded on exploitation of those forced to accept low-paid work just to make ends meet.
The Prime Minister was unable to deny the significant increase in working families being forced to rely on welfare assistance to put a roof over their heads, instead attempting to downplay the disturbing increase as a mere side effect of efforts to encourage more people back into the workplace.
“The Prime Minister is very keen to trumpet the slight decrease in unemployment nationally. But while this news is welcome, he is neglecting to recognise those areas, such as the North East, where finding work continues to be a chronic problem.
“Unemployment across the region remains stubbornly high, running at 50% above than the national average. At the same time, almost four-in-ten claims for Jobseekers Allowance in Stockton North have been ongoing for over 12 months. And to top it all off, when people are lucky enough to find work, figures show that it is unlikely to pay enough to cover essential bills and living costs.
“Under this Tory-led Government, over 850,000 young people are unemployed and there are still over 100,000 more people out of work for two years or more than in 2010. Today’s figures make it abundantly clear that young people and the long-term unemployed are being left behind, and the problems in the North East are not being addressed.”