Record high employment levels

Recent figures released by the independent Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that employment in the UK continues to be at its highest rate on record, at 76.1%, with over 32.7 million people now in work, up 354,000 in the past year and up by 3.65 million since 2010.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8% - its lowest rate since 1975, and down from 8.0% in 2010.

The data also shows that the number of women in work is at a record high of 15.42 million. There are over 1.79 million more women in work since 2010.

And youth unemployment has halved since 2010 - meaning that, under the Conservatives, more young people have economic independence and more control over their lives.

I am particularly pleased to report back to my constituents that the figures for the South West are the best in the country, for both high employment and low unemployment.

There are almost 3 million people in work in the South West - an increase of 317,158 people since 2010. The South West employment rate is 79.6% and the unemployment rate is 2.4%.

In fact, the Forest of Dean has seen a reduction of nearly a third in the number of out-of-work benefit claimants since 2010. This means that there are fewer people claiming this support than at any time since the peak of the financial crisis.

These figures show that our balanced approach to the economy is working. Conservatives are backing businesses to create more jobs, and our welfare reforms are supporting people off benefits and into work.

The last Labour government saw the number of people in jobs fall by 1 million in its last term of office, causing an 82% rise in the number of people on unemployment benefits.

These employment figures show that the British economy is strong and able to meet the challenges ahead. But, it is a Conservative government which will keep the economy growing so that people can build a better future for themselves and their families.