Last month it was confirmed that the British economy is stronger than it has been for years.
Put simply, the recession, with a human cost far outweighing anything that can be accounted for by statistics, is over; the road to recovery stretches out ahead of us.
Though there is no room for complacency, the economic good news is certainly something to celebrate. The Bank of England forecasts growth of 3.4% this year, the highest of any country in Europe; manufacturing output is growing at its fastest rate for 4 years; and inflation remains low.
Perhaps the best news of all is the remarkable fall in unemployment, both nationally and here in our Lincolnshire towns and villages.
There are now a record number of jobs in Britain, with nearly 1.6 million more people in work than four years ago. The vast majority of the new jobs that have been created are both full-time and permanent, and, contrary to the claims of those who trade in fear and despair, the overwhelming number of these jobs (90%) are going to British citizens. More women are working than ever before – a rise of over half a million in four years.
South Holland and the Deepings is doing even better, outperforming similar places in other parts of Britain. Here unemployment is now at its lowest level since May 2010; four years ago 1,851 people were claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the area. Figures from last month show that number has fallen dramatically to just 2.5% of the working population – lower than both the regional and national rates.
Youth unemployment is falling fast – the proportion of those aged 18 to 24 in our locality out of work has dropped to 4.7%, the lowest since the peak of 2009. More young people are able to take advantage of the Government funded apprenticeship reforms as well – 940 people started an apprenticeship in South Holland and the Deepings last year, more than double the number of five years ago. And it’s not just the apprentices who benefit; in my constituency, 480 workplaces now gain from employing an apprentice.
With the number of new businesses locally up 1.8% on the previous year – three times the average for the region and double the national rate – it can be said with confidence that the economic recovery is making a big difference in South Lincolnshire. We are leading the way to a still stronger economic future.