THE unemployment rate in Oldham East and Saddleworth increased to 6.2% in April 2018 with 2,930 people currently jobless - up from 2,640 in March.

This is more than twice the national unemployment rate of 2.9% which has also increased slightly.

Independent analysis from the House of Commons Library suggests that this may be the result of the rollout of Universal Credit rather than economic changes.

Under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker's Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of unemployed claimants and it is most visible in areas operating Universal Credit "full service”, which includes Oldham.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth said, “These are incredibly disappointing figures and the fact it may be a result of the rollout of Universal Credit shows just how toxic this Government policy is.

“Rather than making work pay, Universal Credit is leading to further unemployment, poverty and even homelessness.”

She added: “These figures don't take account of higher unemployment rates for certain groups such as disabled people, young people and ethnic minorities.

“And it’s only going to get worse with the closure of the Shop Direct distribution centre in Shaw and as we start to see the impact of Brexit on the economy. How long will the Government keep pushing this failing policy when the evidence shows it is not working?

“They must stop Universal Credit’s roll out now before many more of my constituents suffer.”