For many months now I have been sending out regular press releases dealing with the latest employment figures for my constituency.
They have shown a steady fall in unemployment, the latest last month showing that our claimants for Job Seekers Allowance had fallen by 37 per cent in a year, and that the claimant rate was now 1.4 per cent – that’s 763 people throughout the whole of North East Bedfordshire, right through the working age group.
We have a bigger workforce in the UK than ever before – 30,760,000, with more women employed than ever as well. This steady recovery from the dark days of the financial crash and an overspending government has put us right at the forefront of world economic recovery.
This is not some sort of background chatter. While all these statistics look dull and uninteresting on a page, each one represents a real person’s job and changing prospects for them, and their families.
Whether I am hearing about apprentices, or in business premises or talking to those who have not left school, there is a strong sense that people are interested in how the economy is changing and what it means for them.
And, importantly, how a growing economy can be sensibly sustained to provide continuing opportunities for the future. This change has not happened by magic. While the world economy has forces difficult to control by any Government, certain things a Government can do can make a difference for the better, or worse. Not every nearby economy is offering opportunities like ours.
For example, through David Cameron’s long term economic plan for the UK, cutting National Insurance contributions for employers, rather than raising them as the last government planned, has helped 850, 000 small business pay less tax, and surveys show many are using this extra money to hire more people.
There are few short roads to recovering from a mess. But without taking the tough choices we have done, those 2014 new jobs and new opportunities for my constituents might not have been there.