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I warmly welcome the Budget, and welcome the fact that the Chancellor resisted the urge, which all Chancellors face, to pull a pre-election rabbit out of a hat. Instead, we saw a competent Budget by a competent Chancellor that continues the excellent work of rebuilding Britain’s battered economy.
The headline figures are very welcome: the deficit is falling; national debt as a percentage of GDP is falling; growth for 2015 has been revised up to 2.5%; youth employment is rising by more than that of the rest of the EU put together; and 1,000 new jobs are being created for every day this Government have been in office. National figures can sometimes seem a bit dry, however. I am generally more interested in how the work we have done to rebuild our economy has had a direct impact on my constituents in North Warwickshire and Bedworth, and that record is one that I am proud of.
Our economy is genuinely working for local people. Just in the last month we saw a further expansion of the MIRA technology park enterprise zone on the A5, with £300 million of ongoing investment creating high-quality jobs and securing our position as the leading transport and automotive region in the UK. We also saw local employer Brose announce a £35 million investment package into Bedworth—private sector money—creating hundreds of new jobs there, too. These announcements of growth and new jobs have followed similar announcements over the last few years from a string of companies from a wide variety of sectors including
Sertec, ADV Manufacturing, Aldi, Euro Car Parts, Ocado, Premier Group, Loades EcoParc, the Coventry building society, Leekes, the Rolton Group and Energetics UK. Thousands of new jobs for local people have been created since 2010.
Our economy in North Warwickshire and Bedworth suffered badly in the great recession of 2008, which saw local unemployment rocket by more than 1,500 in the last two years of the previous Labour Government alone, with more than 2,500 people claiming unemployment benefit. The number of jobseekers has now fallen by around 1,800 since the start of 2010—an incredible 70% drop. There are fewer people unemployed in North Warwickshire and Bedworth now than at any time in the entire 13 years of the previous Labour Government. That has not happened by accident; it is the result of five years of tough but essential economic policies designed to grip the deficit, get control of the economy, support employers and businesses, and rebalance the economy back towards manufacturing and exports.
In fact, the entire local economy is being rebalanced, with fewer people working in warehousing and transport than in 2009, and the number of people working in the manufacturing sector up by 20%. That amounts to more than 1,400 new manufacturing jobs in the constituency. This is essential for ensuring that we have high-quality and sustainable jobs going forward.
Helping people back into work is a fundamental moral priority, and I am proud of the work my team and I have done to help support local employers. I am also proud of the annual jobs fairs that my hon. Friend Mr Jones and I instigated in our local area, which each year has seen more and more real jobs available for local people.
Having a sound economy is the bedrock on which we can build stronger public services. Our local public services in North Warwickshire and Bedworth have faced the challenges of reform, and have risen to that challenge magnificently. Crime locally has fallen consistently over the last five years—down 10% last year alone—and is considerably below 2010 levels.
The George Eliot hospital is now out of special measures, after being driven there by the same Labour Health Ministers who refused repeatedly to hold a public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal, and has been rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission. Clinical staff numbers are rising: there are 39 more doctors and 86 more nurses than in 2010.
A number of our primary and secondary schools in North Warwickshire and Bedworth have taken advantage of the academy scheme in order to take control of their own destinies. In North Warwickshire, the number of schools rated as “needing improvement” has halved, from 20 to 10, while the number rated “good” or “outstanding” is up from 24 to 30.
All these developments rely on a strong economy underpinning the nation. But we are not there yet. We still face significant challenges both nationally and locally, but I am absolutely clear that the people of North Warwickshire and Bedworth are better off following five years of the Chancellor’s deft handling of the economy. They will be better off as a result of yesterday’s solid Budget, and with local small business man Craig Tracey as the new Conservative MP from May, they will continue to be better off in the years to come.