May 19, 2015
I am happy to hear that unemployment in the UK is continuing to fall, according to the latest official figures. For the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate was at its lowest in seven years, down by 35,000 from the final quarter of last year, to 1.83 million. This means that the total number of people in work is 31.1 million, or 73.5%, which is the highest since records began in 1971. In North East Hertfordshire, we have seen those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in April fall to 668, which represents yet another monthly fall.
As for pay, the average salary for employees rose by 2.2% in the last quarter compared with a year earlier, which means that regular pay is now growing at its fastest rate for nearly four years. It is also the seventh month in a row that the rate of regular pay increases has outstripped inflation, meaning that the cost of living is now falling for millions across the UK. The Institute of Directors said that it expected real wages to keep on rising.
Since 2010, this Government has created 1,000 jobs a day, which is more than the rest of Europe put together. This is a record of which we can be proud.
At the first meeting of his new Cabinet, the Prime Minister said that this Government will ensure that for ‘every decision we take, every policy we pursue, every programme we initiate, never forget: we’re here to give everyone in our country the chance to make the most of their life.’
This is a fine way to start this new Conservative majority administration.
May 14, 2015
I was delighted to hear about the agreement of a second contract for the rollout of Superfast Broadband within Hertfordshire which I have long campaigned for. This is excellent news and means that places like Buntingford, Puckeridge, Standon and Braughing will all benefit from the Connected Counties programme which sees an additional £13.9M worth of funding improve broadband coverage for 98% of premises by April 2019. For those wanting to find out more information, they can do so by visiting the Connected Counties webpage which deals with this.
March 26, 2015
It’s good to hear news that, during the February half-term, 220 young people participated in the National Citizen Service with Youth Connexions Hertfordshire. As a strong supporter of the NCS, seeing that these young people have spent 6,600 hours volunteering on social action projects to help their local areas is very encouraging. The NCS aims to provide 16- and 17-year-olds with the skills needed for work, life, and the transition to adulthood, and I’m delighted that so many young people are taking full advantage of it.
The NCS’s programmes with Youth Connexions Hertfordshire continue throughout 2015 with opportunities for another 1,000 young people. I urge young people across North East Hertfordshire to get involved with this excellent scheme.
March 5, 2015
I am concerned by the recent arson attacks against vehicles in Letchworth Garden City. There were over ten such attacks in January and February and they are completely unacceptable. There have also been some van break-ins reported. As I told the local press, the idiots committing these offences are putting themselves and others in danger, and I am glad that we are seeing an increase in police patrols in Letchworth to deal with the situation. Our police are a great local asset and they are working hard to solve these crimes and keep our streets safe.
We must remember that, even with these recent problems, North East Hertfordshire remains a low-crime area. I appeal to local people to report any suspicious circumstances to the authorities.
March 3, 2015
There has been some encouraging news on the inflation rate recently and it is important to examine the benefits that this will bring to our economy. The CPI inflation rate fell to a record low of 0.3% in January, helped especially by lower food and oil prices. This downward trend looks set to continue with the possibility of negative inflation coming briefly in the Spring, according to the Governor of the Bank of England. Mr Carney also said that the falling oil price was “unambiguously good” for the economy and motorists have seen petrol prices fall by more than 8p per litre.
All this will have positive effects on the British economy, with the Bank of England predicting growth this year of 2.6% which have led to forecasts of strong wage growth this year.
This is good for hardworking people across the country. Falling prices and rising wages means that more and more pressure is being lifted from family budgets, and this should support growth in consumer spending.
The recovery is, of course, not complete, but these figures are another sign that the Long-term Economic Plan is working. The deficit is down by a half, a thousand jobs have been created for every day that this Government has been in office, and now, low inflation and increasing wages are making life easier for families up and down the country. Britain should stay the course.
February 27, 2015
East Herts District Council are offering Community Activity Grants of up to £500. This money is intended to help with new or replacement equipment, day to day running costs or one of costs for community events which benefit the people of East Hertfordshire. Parish Councils, community/voluntary groups, clubs and parish councils are all invited to apply. The deadline for applications is this Monday 2 March. For more details about how to apply please click here.
I appreciate the deadline for applications for these grants is quite soon but I strongly encourage constituents to apply for them if they can so that they can enjoy some benefit from any grants within the community.
February 13, 2015
Following the Secretary of State for Education’s speech yesterday about the money being provided by the Government to help families with mental health support, I was pleased to read that as part of “Feelin’ Good Week” which has run this week, £20,000 has also been awarded to community groups and schools in Hertfordshire by Hertfordshire County Council and the county’s two NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Feelin’ Good Week is a Hertfordshire wide event which has been set up to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people in the county through community events and activities. In Hertfordshire as many as 47 organisations have been given awards of up to £500 each. Within the constituency these include Icknield Walk First School, Stonehill School, Greenaway School and local authority groups and charities such as the East and North Herts NHS Trust, The Education Support Team for Medical Absence, Aspects, PHASE, the Pre-School Leaning Alliance and Step2.
I am a keen supporter of such schemes that help those with mental health needs and am glad that both on a national and local scale help is being provided to help children who need it.