Yesterday’s unemployment figures were great news. 1.5 million additional private sector jobs have been created since the 2010 General Election. Unemployment is now down to 6.9%. More young people and people who have been out of work for a long time have found jobs. The majority of the jobs are full time. In my constituency unemployment is now down to just 1%.
The best way out of poverty is through work. The best way to a good job is to have some sort of job and work your way up. The best way to cut the welfare bill is for many more people to rely on work income for more of their financial needs, shifting off unemployment benefits. Tough welfare reform is easier if work is available for many more people, and if work is a realistic option. Those who cannot work should of course be treated generously.
Starbucks announced it will transfer its headquarters to the UK, and will as a result pay more tax here. That could be another sign that a lower Corporation Tax rate brings more business and tax in. It was also a recognition by Starbucks that the UK is the fastest growing of the EU countries this year and could continue to do well thereafter.
Pay has also just edged ahead of price rises for the first time since Labour’s Great Recession in 2008 smashed living standards. It has taken time to turn the economy around sufficiently to reverse this process. It will take longer to get real living standards above the level of 2007 before Labour’s crash. It is strange hearing Labour continuing with its mantra about a “cost of living crisis” which they started off in such spectacular fashion with the Great Recession. Just as their mantra that the Coalition was “cutting too far and too fast” had to be dropped because it was not true and the economy anyway started to grow faster, so they will have to drop this mantra before the election or look as if they are rooted in the past and do not like improving news.
All the main political parties want more people to have jobs, and want pay to be better. Rising living standards are a common aim. The row should be about how you achieve this. It looks as if the current recovery can now start to tackle the poor performance of real wages since 2007, and can certainly continue to offer many more people the chance of a job instead of life on benefits. If at the same time the government has sufficient control of our borders, this augurs well for getting the welfare bill down for the right reason – fewer people will need welfare.