Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
It is a pleasure to speak in this year’s Budget debate and a special pleasure to follow Angela Smith, who spoke with such expertise, knowledge and passion about the future of energy-intensive industries. I am delighted to hear that she welcomes the thrust of what the Chancellor is proposing in his Budget. I just wish that all Labour Members had that same attitude, because some forget what it was like four years ago, when this country was on its knees: our families were being squeezed by high unemployment and falling wages; our high streets had been devastated by the biggest dip in consumer spending in a generation; and our young people found they had the will and passion to succeed, but not the opportunities.
What a difference four years can make: unemployment is down across the country—in Chester it has fallen from 3.5% at the time of the last general election to just 2.2% now; our small businesses are reviving—locally, we have seen new business start-ups increase by 300%; and our young people are starting to get their hope back. In Chester, youth unemployment has fallen from 610 in 2009 to just 295 today—it has more than halved. We have seen a record number of apprenticeships, with 870 created in Chester in the past year alone—that is three times as many as were being created under the last Government. People know what they get with a Conservative-led Government: more jobs; great opportunities; and a better future for our country and its people. It is not just in this place that we are helping hard-working people.