The Economy

More good news this week as we heard that unemployment has fallen again.  There are now fewer than 400 claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance in this constituency, less than 1 per cent of the economically active population and one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country.

Nationally, employment is at a record high, inflation has fallen to a 12-year low, real pay is rising and the RAC has predicted that petrol could soon sell for below £1 a litre.

We hear the claim that the jobs created have been low paid or part time.  In fact full-time jobs account for 95 per cent of the rise in employment over the past year, and two thirds have been in higher skilled occupations.

The number of women in work is at a record high and the number of young people claiming the main unemployment benefit is at its lowest level since the 1970s.

These are rather better historical references than the suggestion that we are somehow going to return to the 1930s.  In fact, as I pointed out on the World at One recently,  the Government's plans to continue reducing the deficit - already cut by a half - and then to run a surplus in the next Parliament will return public spending to roughly the levels bequeathed by Ken Clarke when he was Chancellor and accepted by New Labour for its first two years until they started their unsustainable spending spree.

It's approximately the same level of public spending, as a share of national output, that's run by countries like Australia.  Yes, further spending reductions are needed so that stop spending more each year than we earn, although the Prime Minister has already said that the NHS will continue to be protected.

But the Government has shown that savings can be made while maintaining the quality of services.  We heard similar apocalyptic predictions that cuts would mean a million people out of work, yet nearly 2.2 million more people are employed in the private sector since the election, and the increase in private sector employment is over five times the fall in public sector jobs.

With responsible economic management the road we have taken has not been to Wigan Pier or back to the 1930s, but to prosperity, with the fastest growth of any major economy and a brighter future.

Christopher N Howarth