Recent figures released by the independent Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK’s excellent employment figures continue to improve. The employment rate is now 74.1 per cent – an increase of almost 4 per cent since 2010, with unemployment down 820,000 in the same period.
The security a job provides should not be underestimated, but wages are also on the rise. In the last year, wages have risen 1.9 per cent, while inflation has remained flat. In the face of significant turbulence in the global economy, this news is welcome and encouraging against the cocktail of risks affecting the world.
This is good news for people in the Forest and across the country. The Government is committed to providing security for working people and extending opportunity to everyone, and these figures demonstrate that the plan to deliver a high employment, high wage economy is working.
This year, the National Living Wage comes into effect, further boosting pay packets and increasing economic security. From April 2016, those over 25 are guaranteed a minimum wage of £7.20 an hour, which will increase to £9 an hour by 2020. As a result, 2.5 million workers across the country including a significant number in the Forest, will receive a considerable pay rise. In cash terms, over the course of this Parliament that rise would be over £5,000.
The increase in the tax free personal allowance to £11,000 this April will allow people to keep even more of the money they earn. Since 2010, a typical basic rate taxpayer will be £905 better off than they were under Labour. This, in combination with the National Living Wage, is helping to provide the dignity of a job and the security of a pay packet.
There are considerable economic, social and moral arguments for getting people into work, and it is good to see that one in five Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants find full time work every month, giving them and their families the security of a pay packet. That is why I am delighted at the consistently positive employment figures, and that the Government will finish the job and secure our economic future.