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James Morris MP: Local economy is picking up
12:11pm Wednesday 17th October 2012 in News
This month’s unemployment figures show another welcome fall in the number of people in Halesowen and Rowley Regis who are out of work.
While they say that you can prove anything with statistics, I know that every new job created locally means another family being able to look forward to a more confident and comfortable life together.
It is also a sign that, despite economic problems around the world, our own local economy is picking up, giving firms in the area the confidence to recruit workers to help meet growing order books.
Of course there is still a long way to go. Although unemployment in the constituency is lower than it was at the time that I was elected, and youth unemployment is back below the figures we saw before the election, it remains too high.
I have written before about the work that is being done nationally to help people into work and at the start of the summer I organised a Jobs Fair to help match local jobseekers with jobs and apprenticeships.
But we also need to take a serious look at whether parts of the welfare system have gone from offering a safety net for people going through difficult times, to creating a disincentive for some people to work.
At the time of the last election, 1.4 million people had been on an out of work benefit for nine or more of the last 10 years – through economic good times as well as bad.
We cannot afford a “something for nothing” culture and society cannot afford the social costs of discarding the potential of a whole section of the community by pretending that being out of work can be a lifestyle choice.
We need a system that supports those who need our support, but that also requires those who are out of work to make the same kinds of choices as those who are in work.
It cannot be morally right that governments – acting with the best of intentions – have created a system where some people moving off benefits and into work are only better off by a few pennies for each hour they work.
From this time next year, people claiming benefits will start to move onto the new system of Universal Credits.
This new system has been designed to make sure that, whatever people’s circumstances, they will always be better off in work than on benefits and will always be better off if they are able to work more hours.