With Parliament having broken for the long summer recess (it is frankly rather absurd that it doesn’t sit for more of the year), I am spending late July and August visiting community organisations and knocking on the doors of as many of my constituents as possible. As the Member of Parliament for Croydon Central, it’s my job to represent my constituents’ views, both in Parliament and to Croydon Council, the police, Croydon Health Services and others who provide services in our area. I can only do that if I know what my constituents’ views are and the six-week break from Westminster provides a great opportunity to meet as many people as possible and hear what they have to say both about how the Government is doing and how things are in their local area.
It will come as no surprise to Advertiser readers to hear that the number one issue people are raising is the economy, whether it be how we should deal with the huge deficit the last Government ran up, what can be done to get the economy growing more strongly, how we can get more people into work or what the Government can do to help people cope with the rising cost of living.
It’s been a difficult few years for pretty much everyone, but in the last few months we’ve seen encouraging signs that the tough decisions this Government has taken are paying off. In the second quarter of this year, the economy grew by 0.6 per cent. That’s equivalent to annual growth of about 2.5 per cent – much better than anything we’ve seen for five or six years. And importantly the growth was broad-based across all the main sectors of the economy.
Locally, that’s translated into rapidly falling unemployment. In June, 2,871 of my constituents claimed Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). That's 120 fewer than in May and 386 fewer than a year ago. The news regarding unemployment among young people is even better. 615 of the 2,871 people claiming JSA in June were between the ages of 18 and 24. That's 45 fewer than in May 255 fewer than a year ago – and significantly lower than when this Government came to power.
There’s absolutely no room for complacency though. There are still far too many people out of work or in part time work when they would like a full time job. But the tough decisions the Government has taken to deal with our debts are working and locally we need to make sure we make the most of Westfield and Hammerson’s huge investment in our economy so that we tackle the scourge of unemployment.