Esther McVey has tried to mislead us all about the latest employment figures. But it hasn’t worked.

Esther McVey
Sam Woolfe

Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey recently tweeted a video in which she celebrated the latest employment figures. McVey said “Well done Britain!”, adding that the government has managed to get more women and minorities into work. But her celebration of these figures is very misleading. And Labour MP for North West Durham Laura Pidcock had something to say about it.

Great news?

In her video about the “great news”, McVey said:

Employment is at a record high rate of 75.6%, while the number of people out of work has dropped to its lowest since 1975, and wages are on the up. There are more women, black and minority ethnic, and disabled people in employment too, as we open up more opportunities for people of all backgrounds. Around 1,000 of you have moved into work every day since 2010. This is people right across the country, it is truly exceptional.

But Pidcock points out why the government has no right to pat itself on the back:

People need secure work and higher living standards

The number of zero-hours contracts increased by 100,000 between 2016 and 2017. More people may be in work, but the work is insecure. Zero-hours contracts may suit some people, but as a way to make ends meet, they can pose a serious risk to one’s mental health.

And that’s not the only issue with McVey’s response to the figures. The government may also be using a very narrow definition of employment:

As The Canary previously reported, there are millions of workers in the UK who are living in poverty. There’s no reason to celebrate more people being in work if this precarious work doesn’t lead to a decent standard of living.

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