In work poverty is one of the biggest struggles of our generation. The societal contract that if you work hard, you’ll get by, has been broken. This week I’ve been filming with Channel 4 in the constituency about this issue – you can see the results on their Political Slot in a couple of weeks. I spoke to Sarra in Dukinfield about her experience with flaws in the Universal Credit system, including in relation to childcare, and enjoyed a great visit to the Stamford Group factory in Stalybridge. Stamford produce moulded plastics for everyone from Tesco to the NHS to Caterpillar, and are a great example of high quality jobs from a good local employer who invest in their staff’s wellbeing with an on-site gym and other initiatives. Locally and nationally, we need to see more jobs and employers like this.
The childcare issue is sadly certainly not unique to Tameside. It was great to meet recently with Mums on a Mission. Their experience is that Universal Credit just doesn’t work around childcare costs, creating chicken and egg situations for trying to get and keep a job. It’s in all our interests to make it easier for parents to stay in the labour market, but the Government just isn’t listening to real people’s experience. A social security system that is so rigid you lose your nursery place or your job isn’t working for Britain. To make work work, we have to make childcare work.
I raised this issue of in work poverty in Parliament, too. Working hard through the week should not leave you unable to feed your family in 2021, but new statistics show this is increasingly often the case. I asked the minister whether the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ mean an end to the troubling levels of in-work poverty we’ve seen rise since 2010? Under Labour, work will pay. I wrote for LabourList on why Labour’s mission is not just to create jobs, but to ensure good work for all.
I also spoke to City AM about the problems with Universal Credit, the imperative for a better deal for disabled people, and the challenges for the Labour Party.