• Jobs

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    13 March 2015

    The years since the financial crash have been tough with many difficult choices for government. It would have been surprising if this had not been so. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, an economy which was locked in a fitful cycle of excessive spending and borrowing was in no condition to withstand the battering of collapsing banks and a world financial system that had seized up. When the party was over and the punch bowl removed there was always going to be the hangover. The UK could have avoided a great deal of the pain, of course, if the economy had been better managed under the last government. This is something that made Labour’s charge that we were cutting “too far too fast” so difficult for me to stomach when I first arrived in the Commons. In those days Mr Balls told us there would be no growth, only rapidly rising unemployment if we continued with our plans. He called for a ‘Plan B’ although was vague about what that meant. Balls’ charge was that unemployment would go through the roof as jobs were shed from the public sector. That he was utterly wrong is surely now beyond all sensible debate. Under this government employment is at its highest level on record and there are 1.85 million more jobs today than in May 2010. We have added more jobs over this parliament than the whole of the rest of the EU combined. In Central Devon unemployment has collapsed by 56% since the last election. Our economy is growing faster than any in the developed world and real wages are now rising too. Quite counter to Ed’s prophecy, for every job lost in the public sector 4 new ones have been created in the private sector. And over 85% of new jobs are full time. These jobs were not created directly by government of course but by the often unsung heroes who run businesses and create wealth. But the government did create the environment in which they could flourish. There were two ways this happened. First, getting taxes down. We reduced income tax especially for the lowest paid by increasing the lower end tax threshold. We also reduced corporation tax. Second, we reformed welfare by tightening up on benefits. In short, we ensured that it always pays to work compared with staying on benefits. We continue to help those who would struggle without assistance but otherwise press and support people to choose the dignity and sense of purpose of work. These two approaches, low taxes and making work pay, have led to this jobs miracle. And whilst there are those who will always criticise pretty much everything this government has done – to have engendered the environment in which so many jobs have been created must surely be seen as a significant achievement. To have done so in good times would have been impressive but to have done this in the face of so much adversity is truly remarkable.