New employment data released this month has shown that the numbers of people in employment continues to rise to record levels. Over 31.4 million people are now in employment, with a record employment rate of 74.1% and record employment levels amongst women. Progress also continues to be made tackling long term unemployment, with those numbers falling to 467,000. Across the Witham constituency, the investment that companies have made in local jobs means that there are 1,200 fewer Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants than there were under the last Labour Government.
Over the last six years the strong action that the Conservative Government has given to supporting economic growth and job creation continues to deliver security to more families in the Witham constituency and the whole country. It is one of the Government’s greatest successes that more people are in employment than ever before. However, my colleagues and I are not complacent and we continue to examine new ways to support more people to come off of benefits and into employment. The security of employment and a regular pay packet transforms lives.
Action and investment from business also makes a positive contribution to the number of jobs being created locally. In Essex we are fortunate to have many thousands of innovative businesses and entrepreneurs. I recently hosted a meeting for the Essex Chambers of Commerce and a number of Essex-based businesses in the House of Commons to discuss action that can be taken to support further business growth. The Minister responsible for the Thames Gateway area, Mark Francois, was present and we had an extensive discussion on a range of issues including the new Lower Thames Crossing that is being consulted upon, upgrades to road and rail infrastructure, and how planning and development and deliver more economic growth.
Because the UK economy is growing, the Government is in a position to commit funding to major new infrastructure projects, such as a new Lower Thames Crossing and the widening of the A12 while planning upgrades to the A120 and rail services. The voices and needs of local businesses are contributing to these projects and it is right that they do so as that will ensure the benefits of new infrastructure can be maximised.
However, it is not just major infrastructure projects that matter to residents and businesses. The condition of local roads, pavements and the public realm makes a difference to the everyday quality of life for residents and businesses. To support road repairs and maintenance, the Government has allocated Essex County Council over £22.5 million and £1.5 million from the Pothole Action Fund. If there are any roads that you are aware of that need repairs and maintenance, do get in touch and I will take the matter up with Essex County Council.
If any local residents or businesses need help or assistance from me with any other issue, they are always welcome to get in touch as well by email to: WithamMP@parliament.uk by post to: Priti Patel MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or by telephone on: 020 7219 3528.