Columnist: Chris Skidmore MP for Kingswood
SINCE becoming the MP for Kingswood, one of my priorities has been to try and get local people into jobs. Before I was an MP, I ran the Kingswood Jobs Club, and have since worked with local training providers like N-Gaged to carry on the work of getting local people the best possible advice.
So I was delighted to see that this month, employment figures were released which showed that unemployment in Kingswood has fallen to just 2.3per cent, with over 300 fewer claimants than this time last year.
Nationally, there are more people in work than ever before. Since the 2010 general election, there are 1.02 million more people in work - raising the total in work to 29.87 million, more than at any time in our country's history. The number of people claiming for Job Seekers' Allowance has also fallen by 143,700 since Labour were in power. There was a time when Ed Miliband said this Government's economic plan would "lead to the disappearance of … a million jobs". His scaremongering was completely unfounded. He has been proved completely and utterly wrong.
In contrast, not only are we seeing an extra 1 million people in work, the number of businesses in the UK has reached a record high, having increased by around 400,000 over the last three years. Official figures show that over 100,000 businesses were set up in the last year alone, bringing the total number of UK businesses to 4.9 million – a new record. In the South West, the number of businesses rose from 421,475 in 2010 to 467,040 - an increase of over 10p per cent.
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But there is still much more work to do - there are more than 500,000 vacancies currently available. With signs that the economy is turning a corner, we are working hard to create opportunities for people who want to work hard and get on in life.
Take small and medium-sized businesses - those employing fewer than 250 people - which make up 99 per cent of the total number, employing 14.4 million people. We will be cutting National Insurance for every business by up to £2,000 from April 2014. This will mean that 450,000 small businesses – a third of all employers – will pay no National Insurance at all.
But I'm determined to do more at a local level too. As the MP for Kingswood, I have been helping local people to find work through my Jobs Fairs that I run. I wanted to let readers personally know that I will be holding my next Kingswood Jobs Fair on Friday, November 1, from 10am to 12pm at Mangotsfield School. This is the sixth Jobs Fair that I have organised as the local MP, having had Jobs Fairs across my constituency in Longwell Green, Hanham, Kingswood, Cadbury Heath and Emersons Green. Already the Jobs Fairs have been a great success in finding local people work, and over this past year I've had the great privilege of meeting people in work - who gained their jobs as a result of the Jobs Fairs. At the next Jobs Fair there will be plenty of local companies and local jobs vacancies - no company is able to come along unless they are looking for vacancies to fill.
I would encourage all local people looking for work to come along on November 1 - and if you would like any more details about the companies attending, please do ring my office on 0117 9081524 or email me at email@example.com.