• Jobs and English Votes

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    29 January 2016



    Despite the international risks - a slow down in the Chinese economy, the crashing price of oil and its disruptive effect on some key economies - there continues to be outstanding news on the UK jobs front. Particularly encouraging is the continued downward pressure on youth unemployment. 628,000 young people (aged 16-24) are currently out of work – that is 628,000 too many of course but the latest figures do show a drop of 56,000 in the last quarter and 136,000 over the last year. This welcome news is mirrored by the drop in overall unemployment with this falling by 99,000 in the last quarter – a figure equivalent to the adult population of Exeter – all coming off the unemployment register in the last three months alone. Unemployment is now below its pre-recession level and at its lowest in a decade. Employment is at its highest in our history with 31.4 million of us now in work. And before anyone gets carried away with the idea that this is all part-time zero hours employment – it is not. The vast majority of new jobs are full time. For those who are back in work this means the security of a pay packet and the pride of a job. For the country it is further evidence that the economy is steadily strengthening. Wages are now rising above inflation (meaning more spending power which will help to further propel the economy forward and ease personal financial pressures). There is more to be done of course and we need to make sure that we improve our skills base and infrastructure to kick start productivity levels that have been sluggish under governments of all colours. If the output per British worker is to improve then we need workers with enhanced skills along with better infrastructure (roads, rail, digital included) available to support expansion whilst controlling costs. Significant additional infrastructure investment is being rolled out and 2 million new apprenticeships were started under the last government with 3 million more to come under this. In an uncertain global economy there are no guarantees that all this better economic news will continue but we are at least doing all that we can to put the UK in the best possible position to weather any future storm.

    English Votes


    In the Commons recently we held a historic first. The first time that parliament has voted under the English Votes for English Laws provisions. These are changes that this government made to Parliament’s standing orders to ensure that where laws relate soley to England or to England and Wales (but not to Scotland or Northern Ireland) then MPs representing English or English and Welsh constituencies should have a veto over that legislation. This is important in a UK in which Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have significant devolved powers. So gone now are the days when Scottish MPs could impose laws on England that only affect England or England and Wales. All in all a big step forward.