Last week we heard the good news that employment in the UK has reached record levels as a proportion of the possible workforce. There are now 30.6 million people in work. Since the 2010 election 1.8 million extra jobs have been created and unemployment has come down to 6.5%.
In Wokingham the news is even better. In the constituency unemployment is now at just 0.8% with 441 people looking for a job. There are 316 fewer claimants of unemployment benefit than a year ago.
Getting people back to work was always the most important task facing the incoming government in 2010. The aim is to make work pay, so individuals and families are better off when they move into employment. It also means we need to spend less on unemployment benefits, helping cut the state deficit and moving nearer to the time when we can have overall cuts in taxation.
In the meantime the government has been well aware of low pay rises and of low pay for some of the jobs on offer. That is why it has taken many people out of income tax altogether where they are on lower incomes, so they keep more of what they do earn. It is also the case that the best way to a better paid job is often to take a not so well paid job and work your way up. Educational reform, more training courses and more apprenticeships are also important parts of the policy to help people into jobs for the first time, and in to more responsible and more skilled better paid jobs.
There is more to be done to spread the prosperity and success more fully around the country. I am glad unemployment is now so low in Wokingham. We too can do more to ensure good educational and training opportunities for all, as we work away to raise pay and living standards from this better base.