One of the most fundamental things in life is having a job – being able to provide for yourself and your family. That’s why I’m extremely proud of the Government’s record on job creation. We now have record employment in this country; there are more people in work than at any time since the mid 1970s – a huge boon for people, their families and their communities. I’m also proud that our local employment figures are so good: in Brentwood and Ongar, just 1% of the economically active population – aged between 16 and 64 - are now claiming unemployment benefit. That’s 60% lower than the national average.
Across the country we are also starting to see youth unemployment fall. This is fantastic news as we know that the longer you spend out of work as a young person, the more it affects your job prospects later on. Nationally, the level of young people out of work has now dropped below 5 per cent for the first time ever while the level of women in work is at a record high. And the Department for Work and Pensions is looking hard into the issue of how we can help more people with disabilities who want to work, find work. I recently met the Secretary of State for Work and pensions, David Gauke MP, in Westminster to discuss, among other things, what Brentwood and Ongar employers can do to support people with disabilities in the workplace.
Giving people the security of a regular pay packet, and giving young people the experience they need to help them get on in life is vital. This Government is taking a “yes you can“ approach to employment, working with people to help them overcome their barriers to work. Having the ability to earn your own money and not rely on the state gives people a sense of purpose and pride. It’s not always easy to overcome fear of failure, or disabilities which make working difficult, but we are doing all we can to ensure employers understand the needs of all kinds of workers, and offer appropriate opportunities to work to those of all abilities.
Of course, a healthy jobs market is entirely dependent on a healthy economy – and that’s why it’s vital that the Government continues to live within its means. Doing so will give even more people the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of work.