I refer to the latest unemployment figures for the North West Norfolk constituency which were recently published. The January figures saw a very welcome fall of 55 from the previous month’s unemployment rate. This means that the overall number of claimants is now down by over 1,000 since the last election.
I think it is important to look behind the mere statistics, and bear in mind that we are talking about nearly 900 families, who compared to a year ago now have a breadwinner and hope for the future.
The other really positive piece of news is that the overwhelming majority of these new jobs that have been created over the past year, both across the country as a whole and here in west Norfolk, are full-time ones on permanent contracts.
I would like to pay tribute to all the businesses and entrepreneurs in this constituency who have battled through the challenging years, but are now expanding and taking on new employees.
The other really positive news is that wages over the past year have gone up by an average of 1.8 per cent overall, and up by 2.2 per cent in the private sector – this compares with inflation that it currently running at under 0.5 per cent. So in other words, wages are now outstripping inflation by a considerable amount.
Having said this, there is still obviously a long way to go. The Coalition Government inherited a truly catastrophic economic situation with the budget deficit (that is the annual borrowing) creeping up to the £200 billion mark, and the National Debt heading to well over £1 trillion. Although we have brought the deficit down to £90 billion, until we actually get the budget into balance our National Debt will keep going up. Indeed, one of the tragedies is that we are having to spend £52.1 billion in 2014/15 servicing the National Debt. This is more than the combined budgets of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office!
The only way we are going to reduce this horrific debt is through strong economic growth.
This is why it is exceptionally good news that the UK is now enjoying growth of 2.6% - which makes us not just the fastest growing economy in the EU, but one of the fastest of any advanced nation.
Conservative MP for North West Norfolk.