A guest post from Cllr Charlie Dewhirst, the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith. This is the text of speech that was to be delivered last night at a Council meeting. But Labour used a procedural tactic to block debate on a motion welcoming the fall in unemployment.
There can be no doubt that one of the great successes of the current Conservative-led Government has been the jobs miracle currently underway in the UK.
Figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics show 1.75 million more people in work than in 2010 and wages rising faster than inflation.
A new milestone has been reached with the unemployment rate falling below 6 per cent for the first time in six years – that means more people with the stability and security of a job, able to provide for themselves and their family.
And these jobs are not insecure or poorly paid – in fact three-quarters of the new jobs that have been created since the election are full-time and wages are rising faster than inflation with regular pay (not including bonuses) going up by 1.8 per cent and inflation at 0.5 per cent.
The Conservatives’ long-term economic plan to create more jobs and cap benefits to reward work is working, but we know there is more to do and that families are still feeling the impact of Labour’s Great Recession.
Labour left nearly half a million more people without a job and Ed Miliband predicted that our economic plan would ‘lead to the disappearance of a million jobs’.
But there are now more than 1.75 million more people in work. This shows Ed Miliband is just not up to the job and Labour don’t have a plan for Britain’s future.
They would put all the progress we have made at risk with their call for more spending and more borrowing.
Now, each and every time we get good news on jobs, the Labour are quick to shout out that these aren’t “real jobs”.
They keep telling us about the UK’s “cost of living crisis” and how the gap between rich and poor is getting worse.
Let’s consider the latest ONS statistics.
· Employment: 30.8 million (up 1.75 million since the election).
· Unemployment: 1.91 million (down 596,000 since the election).
· Claimant count: 867,700 in December (down 627,100 since the election).
· Wages: regular pay (average earnings excluding bonuses) is up 1.8 per cent on the year and private sector pay is up 2.2 per cent. Inflation measured by the CPI is currently 0.5 per cent.
· Nearly 2.2 million more people are employed in the private sector since the election – the increase in private sector employment is over five times the fall in public sector jobs.
· Three quarters of the number of people in work since the election are in full-time jobs – full-time jobs accounted for 83 per cent of the rise in employment over the past year.
· Youth unemployment is 175,000 lower than at the election and the number of young people claiming the main unemployment benefit is at its lowest level since the 1970s.
· Long-term unemployment (over 12 months) is down 130,000 since the election.
· Three quarters of the rise in employment has been in managerial, professional and associate professional jobs.
· The number of women in work is at a record high of 14.4 million.
· The number of people claiming the main unemployment benefit is at its lowest level since June 2008.
Now I am not for one minute saying that the job is done. Far from it – there are still 1.9 million people without work.
However, the future is bright. Nationally there are currently a record 700,000 job vacancies and here in Hammersmith and Fulham there are some fantastic opportunities for local employment.
The transformation of Old Oak Common will bring around 55,000 new jobs and I am sure every councillor in the chamber welcomed today’s news that Eric Pickles has given the go ahead for a Mayoral Development Corporation.
This will allow LBHF to play a key role in shaping the redevelopment and bringing these new jobs and new homes closer to reality.
The redevelopment of Earls Court will bring a further 10,000 new jobs and the extension of Westfield is set to create another 6,700 new permanent roles on top of the 2,500 jobs at the old BBC Television Centre.
But it is crucial that the current Administration learns lessons from previous Labour Councils in H&F. When the original Westfield scheme was given the go ahead the then leader of the Council, now MP of Hammersmith, did not put the necessary safeguards in to guarantee local employment.
The result: Westfield employs 10,000 people of which just 350 come from the local area.
However, I am sure the current Leader’s famed negotiating prowess will ensure no repeat over the next three years but we must make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity to create jobs for local people.
I welcome the continued reduction in unemployment but we must not be complacent. We have a great opportunity in this borough to create many thousands more new jobs in the coming years and I commend this motion.