This column first appeared in The Croydon Advertiser on 13th September 2013.
It’s been a busy few days.
Last Friday, I had a meeting with the Leader and Chief Executive of Croydon Council. As I mentioned in my last column, I spent the summer knocking on doors in the Woodside and South Norwood area of my constituency and I wanted to pass on residents’ concerns about four local issues - flytipping, the state of Portland Road, Love Lane Green and the proposed new secondary school at Croydon Arena.
On Sunday, I attempted my annual sponsored walk around the boundaries of my constituency. I say attempted because I was very unwell and, despite trying my best, I was in no fit state to walk 18 miles (I completed it yesterday). This year, I’m raising money for Croydon Visual, a great local charity that support the blind and visually-impaired. Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me - if you haven’t, but would like to, you can send a cheque made payable to C.V.A.B. to 133 Wickham Road or donate online at http://www.justgiving.com/GavinBarwellMP.
On Tuesday, we had the very welcome news that Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, which runs Croydon University Hospital and community health services in Croydon, will be getting an additional £4.5 million to help it cope with the additional pressures that the A&E Department in particular will experience over the winter. The NHS as a whole is having to cope with rising numbers of people attending A&E Departments as more and more people are living with chronic conditions. That pressure is particularly acute in places like Croydon that for years have had a relative raw deal in terms of NHS funding. I’ve been lobbying hard behind the scenes for extra funding to help the new leadership at our local hospital cope with these pressures and I am delighted that the Government has responded.
And on Wednesday we had the latest unemployment figures which show unemployment in Croydon Central continuing to fall.
2,667 of my constituents claimed Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in August. That's down 113 or over just over four per cent in the last month and 534 or nearly 17 per cent on a year ago.
The news regarding youth unemployment is even better. Of the 2,667 Croydon Central residents claiming JSA in August, 585 were between the ages of 18 and 24. That's down 15 or over 2.5 per cent in the last month and 340 or nearly 37 per cent on a year ago.
Despite the tough economic times, unemployment is now over 9 per cent lower than when the Coalition came to power and youth unemployment is over 24 per cent lower.
There is absolutely no room for complacency. There are still far too many people out of work or in part time work when they would like a full time job. But these figures show that the Government's economic strategy is working. Across the country, more people are in work today than at any time in this country's history.