Unemployment in Ellesmere Port & Neston is rising, MP Justin Madders (Lab) has disclosed.

The MP made an unsuccessful bid in the House of Commons on Thursday (January 21) to force an urgent debate ‘on the continuing North-South divide’.

He pressed his concerns in a parliamentary question after figures released this week showed that unemployment locally over the last 12 months is on the up.

The total number of unemployed claimants in the Ellesmere Port & Neston constituency in December 2015 was said to be 1,101, 122 higher than in December 2014.

'Problem more serious in the north'

Mr Madders points out that while unemployment has declined as a national figure, it has increased in the last year in over 100 constituencies.

“The problem seems to be more serious in the north, as of the 75 constituencies where unemployment rose most, just seven were in the south of England”, he says.

At business questions in the Commons, Mr Madders asked the leader of the House, Tory MP Chris Grayling, for a debate on the issue.

He commented: “I was disappointed by the Prime Minister’s triumphalism on unemployment because yet again unemployment went up in my constituency as it has done in many constituencies.

“And of the 75 where it went up most, just seven were in the south of England.

“So can we have an urgent debate on the continuing North-South divide before the Northern Powerhouse goes the way of the Big Society and hug a hoodie?”

'Economy of the north is growing faster'

Mr Grayling said he was sorry but he simply did not agree with Mr Madders.

“Over the past five and a half years, we have seen a steady fall in unemployment and a steady rise in employment in this country and the economy of the north is growing faster than the economy of the south,” he insisted.

“I am proud of this Government’s achievement in turning around the situation. When we came into office unemployment was forecast to rise to three million but it is now around half that level.”

Outside the house Mr Madders said: “While the national fall in unemployment is clearly good news, the effects are not being felt evenly. Many communities, particularly in the North West, have seen unemployment rise in the last year.

“The Conservative Government appear to be totally complacent about this issue and frankly the Northern Powerhouse isn’t something that anyone I speak to locally can recognise as anything more than a PR stunt.”

He added: “I will continue to put pressure on the Government to address the North-South divide which is widening on their watch.”