Last week's figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of Jobseekers in the Hemel Hempstead Constituency has nearly halved since the last General Election.
There are now 1,103 people claiming out of work benefits, down from 2,122 in May 2010. That is just 2.1% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64; a new record. I am particularly pleased that youth unemployment too is significantly down. At the General Election there were 460 18-24 year olds claiming Jobseekers Allowance in the Hemel Hempstead constituency, today that number is 245.
It is not just good news locally. These figures are part of a strong overall picture for the UK economy as the number of unemployed people has fallen below 2 million for the first time since 2008. There are now 30.76 million people in work, the highest level on record.
Since the 2010 election, we have pursued a clear long-term economic plan and whilst it has not always been easy, it is beginning to pay off and the UK is now growing faster than any other major advanced economy in the world.
Measures to boost business are helping local people find jobs, move off benefits and into work. This is giving more and more people the peace of mind and security that comes with a job and a steady income. It means more parents being able to provide for their children and plan for a better future.
We are also planning for the future. We have reformed the school curriculum to make it more industry relevant and increased the number of apprenticeships to ensure that we have a better skilled and more productive workforce. This gives young people the skills they will need in the years ahead.
We are supporting the first real-terms increase to the Minimum Wage and – more good news – the state pension will rise by £148 next year, this is faster than earnings or inflation.
All this is great help for people who want to work hard and get on in life, as well as for all those who’ve spent their whole lives doing so.
A strong economy is vital. Without economic stability, employers do not have the confidence to invest in new skills or research and development, nor would tax cuts, a pension increase and a higher Minimum Wage be affordable.
Manufacturing in the UK has seen the strongest growth for six years. More than 1.13m cars were made in British factories in the first nine months of this year.
Locally, initiatives to encourage businesses to invest have seen the likes of Britvic, Amazon, Royal Mail, Aldi and others create new employment opportunities here in Hemel Hempstead.
Additionally, in the first quarter of this year alone, some 249 new companies were registered in Hemel Hempstead, an increase of 16% over the first quarter of 2010.
We must not throw away all that we have achieved, we must continue with the long-term plan that is clearly right for Britain.