Charlie Elphicke is the Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal.
Today’s jobs numbers are outstanding. The rise in jobs and the fall in unemployment across the country has been one of the great successes of this Government. It shows that our welfare reforms and long term economic plan are making a massive difference to people in their daily lives. The UK is doing far better than Europe – another powerful reason for Scotland to vote tomorrow to stay in the union.
The moral case for job creation is clear. More jobs mean more people with the security of a pay-packet. More people able to provide for their families to plan for the future with confidence. Labour abandoned people to a life of welfare. We are getting people off benefits and back to work.
This is the heartland of opportunity politics. Everyone should have a crack at life. Everyone should have the chance to do well if they work for it. To be, as the US Army Recruitment advert used to say, all they can be. Barriers to success should be torn down. Skills, promotion on merit and flexible markets should be advanced. Dependency should be rejected and personal responsibility embraced. These have long been our values – this Government’s jobs story is the evidence that it works beyond all expectation.
What is so striking about today’s figures is the level of jobs success across the board. This is the largest fall in unemployment for 26 years. Unemployment has dropped 468,000 to 6.2 per cent. The private sector has continued to create jobs at a startling rate. 2.2 million new business jobs have now been created since 2010. 800,000 of those jobs have been created in the last year, showing how the pace has been quickening.
More notable still is how jobs are back to pre-recession levels. The employment rate is higher now than it was before Labour’s Crash at 73 per cent. There are now 30.61 million people in work. Unemployed JSA welfare claimants have fallen below the 1 million mark for the first time since 2008. While there are fewer young unemployed JSA claimants now than before the Labour’s recession. Today’s numbers disclose a fall in youth unemployment that is the largest since records began – a fall of 213,000 on the year.
The latest numbers knock Labour’s feeble attempts at negative campaigning out of the park. The Government’s Work Programme has contributed to the largest annual fall in long term unemployment since 1988. A fall of 175,000 on the year. Job vacancies rose 137,000, bringing total vacancies to 673,000. There are a record number of women in work – 40 per cent in senior jobs, not the low skilled jobs Labour tries to claim. Full-time jobs overall have also been a great success story, with full-time work up 589,000 on the year.
These figures are not just outstanding from a domestic point of view. They are outstanding when we look overseas. Over the past year the UK has seen a bigger growth in jobs and a sharper fall in unemployment than in the G7. We are doing far better than Europe, which continues to be engulfed in economic malaise.
This is another strong reason for Scotland to vote tomorrow to stay in the union. At 6 per cent Scotland has a lower unemployment rate than the UK as a whole and a higher employment rate at 73.9 per cent. Meanwhile Ireland has an unemployment rate of 11.5 per cent and an employment rate of just 60.8 per cent. Scotland’s unemployment rate is half that of Ireland. Scotland has more than shared in the jobs success story of our island nation. This shows the trading links, the bonds of ancient friendship and alliance are as true today as they were 300 years ago.
As we approach the election, the economic recovery and jobs story will lie at the heart of our election case. The vice closes on Labour as the recovery strengthens and jobs are created. It is increasingly obvious their downbeat negative case is melting away. Indeed, their plans for more welfare, more taxes and more borrowing would harm the recovery. Labour’s borrowing plans would mean higher interest rates sooner and their tax plans would squeeze wage earners up and down the land. Overall, their plans would harm jobs, economic growth and risk the recovery. In this way the choice and our election case are becoming increasingly clear. It’s the jobs, stupid.