Column: Government is getting Britain back to work

Sir Edward Leigh
Sir Edward Leigh

Readers are by now well aware that I never shy away from highlighting problems that need to be addressed.

Sometimes it’s also useful to take a moment and shine some light on things that are getting better to remind ourselves of what Governments can achieve, especially when it comes to the fight against poverty.

A perfect example can be found in the recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which showed that the number of those who went without food, heating, or lighting in their own homes has fallen by 25 per cent since 2015.

A good job with a regular income is the foundation of a prosperous society, and children are five times more likely to live in poverty if they are in a household where no-one is working.

Since the Conservatives entered Government in 2010, the number of workless households has fallen by 970,000 – effecting a huge positive impact on children’s lives.

The number of people living in absolute poverty since that time has fallen by one million.

Experience has consistently shown that paid employment is the quickest, as well as most long-lasting, route out of poverty.

Because of Government policies aimed at, where possible, getting people off benefits and back into work, unemployment is at a 40-year-low, and the number of people in work is at a record high, with 1,000 people moving into work every single day.

In a prosperous society with people paying fair rates of taxation, the Government will be able to support those who truly need our help, as well as funding the NHS.

The Government is also focussing on the lowest-paid workers for special help and support.

The National Living Wage it has introduced gave low earners the fastest pay rise for more than two decades

In April, it increased again, which means that a full time worker earning the National Living Wage should be £2,000 per year better off since its introduction.

Apprentices and workers under the age of 25 are seeing the largest wage increases in ten years.

Amazon has announced it will create 2,500 more permanent jobs in the UK by the end of this year, while the entertainment and media sector in this country is set to grow by £8 billion over the next four years.

These figures are strong, but can be even better, and the Government is looking to boost growth and increase productivity further.

I, and my fellow pro-Brexit MPs, have been greatly encouraged by the recent addition of a ‘backstop’ giving an end date by when ‘at the latest’ the United Kingdom’s participation in the European Union’s customs union will come to an end.

This means that the Government is committed to ensuring that future arrangements on customs and on the Irish border will be in place by December 2021, if not before then.

Securing a full and comprehensive agreement on our future relationship with the European Union can seem slow and fraught with difficulty, sometimes not without justification, but progress is being made.