Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has slated government handling of the economy, following news that unemployment rose by 10,000 in the quarter up to August 2016.
Although the official Office for National Statistics (ONS), downplayed in the increase, saying that an increase of 10,000 left the overall figure of 1.66 million relatively stable, Debbie Abrahams MP said that the rise was particularly concerning given that wage growth was also slowing down.
“When taken with the wide regional and gender differences in employment rates, and inflation rising, there is a real risk to the living standards of British people under this failing Tory Government,” she said. “The country deserves better; the Government has no answers and no plan for working people and for the UK economy. Only a Labour Government will stand up for working people and build a fairer economy that works for all.”
Her comments came the day after Clive Lewis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, weighed in on “Marmitegate”. Commenting on Tesco boss Matt Davies’s warning that food price increases could be lethal, Mr Lewis said: “Last week’s Marmite shortage was thankfully short-lived, but this stark warning from the head of one of Britain’s biggest food retailers is a timely reminder that the worst is yet to come.
“With retailers’ hedging contracts coming to an end, the devalued pound will soon start feeding into food and other prices. Tory cuts and failed economic management mean that people are already struggling to feed themselves – there were well over one million visits to food banks last year. In such circumstances Mr Davies is right to highlight the threat posed by higher food prices.
“Urgent action is needed to manage this transition at minimum cost to people’s pockets or stomachs. Instead, having taken us into Brexit without a plan, the Tories are leading us from crisis to crisis.”
The Government responded defensively on the figures, with Employment Minister Damian Hinds MP saying, “There’s more to do, particularly when it comes to supporting young people into employment.”