Derbyshire Times Column

As published in the Derbyshire Times, 3rd October 2013

During the general election in 2010, I promised to stand up for hard-working people in Amber Valley, to get the economy growing again, and to reduce unemployment. I’m very pleased to say that we’ve seen further great news over the past few weeks, with the announcement that unemployment here in Amber Valley has now fallen to 3.2%, down from 4.3% at the time of the election.

Things are even better for the economy in general, too – predictions from the OECD have been raised from 0.8% growth to 1.5% for the year. Business confidence is at its highest level since 2007.

Early in September I held the first Amber Valley Jobs Fair. The event was a great success, with over six-hundred constituents visiting and over one-hundred now in employment as a result of the fair. To continue in honouring my pledge to reduce unemployment in the constituency, I will hold another fair next year.

This week saw the Conservative Party conference held in Manchester, at which we saw important developments on the economy.

During his speech on the economy, The Chancellor rightly said that his policies had now brought about recovery. Our structural deficit elimination programme has ensured the markets remain confident, that mortgage rates remain low, and that businesses can borrow at acceptable rates to give us the jobs and growth we need. We must stay the course to continue to deliver growth and jobs.

Policy announcements included a freeze in the fuel duty for the rest of this parliament, providing we can find the savings, and a recommitment to our pledge to increase the personal allowance in income tax to £10,000 by next year, saving 33,000 of my constituents £700 per year, and taking 3,000 out of income tax altogether. A further tax cut for married couples will see many couples’ income tax bill cut by £200 per year. The Chancellor also said that we would bring forward the next phase of Help to Buy – in just a couple of weeks new buyers will be able to receive 95% Government-backed mortgages on older, as well as new, properties.

We also saw the Chancellor go further on our pledge to end the ‘something for nothing’ culture – those unemployed for one year or more will have to sign on each day, receive real training, or do work in the community. It’s absolutely right that the welfare system supports those that cannot look after themselves, but hard-working people should not be subsidising the lifestyles of those that don’t want to work hard and get on.

Mr Osborne also confirmed that we will legislate to ensure that energy companies put their customers on the cheapest tariff. Labour’s policy of a price freeze is already unravelling – such a move would scare off investment, see prices rise in the short and long-term and risk an energy shortage.

The difference between Labour and the Conservatives is clear. We are offering a realistic and grown-up approach to the economy that is on the side of hard-working people. Labour have consistently opposed every single one of our measures to reduce the deficit, reform the welfare system, to make work pay, and to reduce immigration. They continue to oppose the economic policy that has seen us go from rescue to recovery. They must never again be handed the keys to the economy, when they were the ones who crashed it to begin with.