Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has welcomed new figures that show more people are in employment across the East of England since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

But Labour politicians in North Herts have pointed out that the rise in employment hides issues with stagnant wages and insecure jobs.

Recently released figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the employment rate in the East of England between February and April this year was 78.7 per cent - up from 77.9 per cent in the same period last year, and up from 73.3 per cent in 2010, when the Conservatives came to power.

Reacting to the figures, Mr Afolami said: "These are difficult times, with Britain’s economy shocked by Coronavirus and then impacted by Putin’s war in Ukraine.

"Today’s jobs figures show there are four million more people in work since 2010 [across the UK] and 401,999 more people in work across the East of England – meaning more people are earning their own money.

"There is more to be done to halve inflation, grow the economy and reduce debt – but these figures show the Conservatives are committed to ensuring everyone has the security of a job."

But Cllr Elizabeth Dennis, Labour leader of North Herts Council, said: "While superficial analysis of the recent ONS figures indicates employment in the East of England is rising, real average earnings are falling. More and more families in North Herts are feeling the squeeze."

New data from the ONS shows that real average earnings in the East of England have decreased since 2008, from £713 to £668 per week.

READ MORE: North Herts politicians react to 'damning' Johnson report

Across the UK, real average earnings have not increased since 2005. Leading economists have said it is the first time since the Napoleonic wars in the early nineteenth century that wages have been stagnant for such a long period.

Cllr Dennis continued: "The fact is, the Conservatives have had 13 years to fix our economy, but instead have made things worse for ordinary people.

"Not only are we dealing with a real-terms pay cut, but there’s growing uncertainty over mortgage interest rates, with products being withdrawn from the market, and interest rates increasing, leaving households with an additional bill of up to £2,300 this financial year.

"Labour would tackle these issues by closing tax-loopholes and ensuring everyone pays their fair share. The Conservatives are out of touch and have nothing better to offer our economy than a sticking plaster."

Meanwhile, Cllr Alistair Willoughby, chair of North East Herts Labour Party, said: "There might be a slight increase in people in work, but as readers of the Comet know, across Stevenage and North Herts more than 10,000 children are living in poverty.

"This is an unacceptable reality that demonstrates just how disconnected the Conservatives are from the day to day lives of the rest of us.

"The types of jobs that are available to so many of us are part-time, zero-hour, or insecure and this isn’t acknowledged by Bim's interpretation.

"It is not good enough to have people in work if that work doesn’t provide the means to, not just live, but thrive in our communities.

"A Labour government would give back hope to working families at a time when we need it most."

According to the Health Foundation, the number of people who are employed but also living in poverty has increased in recent years.

They found that in 2019/20, 66 per cent of children and working-age adults living in poverty lived in families where at least one adult was working. In 2009/10, just before the Conservatives came to power, the equivalent figure was 53 per cent.