• Business and Employment

    Okehampton Times
    20 February 2019

    I have been focusing on business and employment recently. In Okehampton I had the pleasure of lifting the first shovel of earth for the mast that Airband is installing to provide further superfast broadband to a hundred local homes and more importantly to new businesses based at the Okehampton Business Centre. Over in Heathfield it came as a shock when the BCT ceramics factory went into administration. I have visited a number of times over the years and I have met with the administrator to discuss the jobs situation. The early signs are positive with a strong local job market meaning that a number of staff have already found work elsewhere and some who were closer to retirement have taken the opportunity to leave the labour market. For many this has been a very difficult time and I will continue to work with the administrator and local agencies to do all that is possible to support my constituents who have been affected. In Crediton I visited the local foodbank and my thanks to the volunteers there for all that they do to help others. The visit gave me an opportunity to meet two younger users of foodbanks. We discussed Universal Credit- the Government has made significant changes to ensure that those who need receive it - including advances on payments and a large increase in the annual allowance which is the amount that those on UC can earn in work without facing a withdrawal benefits. The £1,000 increase announced at the last budget means that those on UC can keep an extra £630 every year as a result - a further boost to making work pay and part of the reason for our record employment level and the lowest unemployment since 1975. More from Mel on twitter @MelJStride and at