Since I was elected in 2010 there has been good news on jobs in the Moorlands. In March 2016, the Office for National Statistics revealed in its quarterly report that the employment rate in the UK now stands at 73.3%, the highest rate of people in work since the ONS began keeping records in 1971.
In spite of the global economic slowdown, the Conservative government’s drive to get more people into work is clearly succeeding; hardworking British people are now more able to support their families. These statistics are particularly impressive when we consider the employment situation in the rest of Europe. Whereas 2015 saw France struggle with its highest rates of unemployment in 5 years, this side of the channel 2015 marked a fall of over 100,000 in people claiming job seekers’ allowance. In reducing unemployment to just 5.1% – half the Eurozone average – this Conservative government is delivering on its promises to support people to get on in life and create greater economic security for all.
And our constituency is leading the way. Since Labour left office in 2010, unemployment in Staffordshire Moorlands has fallen to a rate of only 1.0% - one of the lowest in the country, and especially impressive when economists recognise that 2% is equivalent to full employment. In fact, between February 2005 and February 2015, the number of people claiming job seekers’ allowance fell from 942 to just 380. Yet the good news shows no signs of plateauing; the latest results from the Office of National Statistics, published in March 2016, show that in just the last year, unemployment in Staffordshire Moorlands has fallen by yet another 4%. I am so proud of the leaps and bounds this constituency has made in stamping out unemployment, and over the rest of 2016 I plan to continue my programme of apprenticeship campaigns and job fairs to help put Staffordshire Moorlands on the map as a role model for full employment.
For Britain to thrive in the 21st century, we need to balance growth across the whole country, not just London. That’s why this Government has created 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships, including the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, so that we can set local economic priorities to encourage jobs and boost exports. But there are many other practical steps helping business today.
For example, the new Regional Growth fund has made £2.4 billion available to support private sector projects that will provide economic growth. It’s good news for the Moorlands that small businesses can access the fund because 80% of our businesses here are SMEs.
The Government was able to extend small business rate relief and the Red Tape Challenge is overhauling our system of regulations – almost half those considered so far are being scrapped. The ‘One in, Two Out’ rule means any government department bringing in a regulation must get rid of two. That’s making sure that there are no net increases in costs to businesses and has delivered a net reduction of regulation worth £3.3 billion to business since January 2011.
Many people in business in the Moorlands tell me that they could do with better advice and support. Ministers have listened, and the gov.uk website now includes online support for businesses and 40,000 experienced business mentors have been recruited.
For companies looking to expand but in need of investment, the Government has introduced the Funding for Lending Scheme which encourages banks to lend more to businesses. Then there is the Enterprise Finance Guarantee continues that provides over £2 billion of additional lending to budding entrepreneurs.
Last month’s national statistics set out another strong set of figures showing private sector employment at the highest since records began, wages rising and a near record 768,000 job vacancies in the economy. The strength of our economy is a credit to hard-working people and businesses.
This success is shared by people across the country with every region seeing an increase in the number of people employed compared to this time last year. The employment rate of every region across the UK is above the Eurozone average.
All parts of society are benefitting from our reforms – the female employment rate is at a record high of 69.1% with more than a million people in work since 2010 and the number of young people claiming unemployment benefits stands at 153,000, the lowest since the mid-1970s.
Wages are continuing to rise, particularly in the private sector where total pay is up 2.3% on the year. With private sector employment hitting a record high of over 26 million, more people are enjoying the security and opportunity of a pay packet.
In short, Britain is booming. But we must not become complacent; over the coming year I intend to continue working with you, and the government, to eradicate unemployment in our constituency. I will actively support all government initiatives and policies decreasing regulation for SMEs, and will continue to host job fairs, proved to be a highly successful way of getting people into work. If you have any questions about employment in Staffordshire Moorlands, please do get in touch using the contact details listed on this website.