Hackney MP Diane Abbott attacks government for 'surge' in unemployment

Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, speaks during the third day of the Labour Par

Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, has attacked the government for 'surge' in unemployment. - Credit: Empics Entertainment

MP Diane Abbott has criticised the government for failing Hackney people after new data revealed a steep rise in unemployment in the borough. 

The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington was responding to official data released showing a 155 per cent rise in the number of unemployment claimants in her constituency.

She said: "The surge in unemployment benefit claims shows the government has completely failed people in the constituency. 

"It has failed to protect jobs in the pandemic and has done nothing to prevent deepening inequalities”.     

Data released from the House of Commons Library show Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants and out-of-work Universal Credit (UC) claimants in Hackney North and Stoke Newington have risen to 9,565 in March 2021, up from 3,750 in March 2020. 

In addition, both of the borough's constituencies, which also includes Hackney South and Shoreditch, have seen the number of people claiming UC increase over the last year. 

From March 2020 to 2021, Hackney North and Stoke Newington saw a 150pc increase in both unemployed and employed people applying for UC. Hackney South and Shoreditch saw a rise of 143pc. 

Official figures for both constituencies show a steep increase from October 2018 and an even sharper one from March 2020, when the first coronavirus lockdown was implemented.

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The numbers continue to rise while residents like Michael Colbert, reveal just how much the pandemic has affected peoples' lives.

The taxi driver of 30 years was made redundant and lost his only source of income last year due to the pandemic.

Taxi driver Michael Colbert.

Taxi driver Michael Colbert lost his job during the pandemic and said it was difficult to apply for Universal Credit without help, having never done so before. - Credit: Michael Colbert

He was not able to access employee benefits like sick pay or the furlough scheme, leaving him struggling to pay rent.

However, with support from his landlord, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) Michael, who had never claimed benefits before, submitted a successful UC application.

Michael said he would not have survived financially without support, adding: "It’s been extremely difficult not only adjusting to change due to Covid but finding and understanding the financial help available."

The Department for Work and Pensions passed a request for comment to The Conservative Party which has not yet responded. 

MTVH residents or customers can contact its Money Advice Team at money.advice@mtvh.co.uk if in need of financial advice and support.    

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