For those of us lucky enough to have a job, work is the foundation stone of our happiness.
Of course our jobs don’t always make us happy: sometimes they are boring and sometimes they are stressful.
But having a job not only enables us to provide for ourselves and our families: to pay for a home, buy food and clothes and allow ourselves and the people we love an occasional treat. It also gives us a sense of purpose and a source of self-respect.
That’s why this week’s employment figures were so important and so welcome. Nationwide, we saw a record 280,000 increase in employment in one three-month period.
Unemployment fell by 167,000 (the largest drop since 1997) to 7.1 per cent of the workforce. In Grantham and the rest of my constituency the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance has fallen to 1,421 (or 2.7 per cent of the workforce) which is 287 fewer claimants than a year ago.
So the Government’s plan is working, and beginning to bear fruit. The economy is moving again – and growth is gathering pace. Businesses are creating jobs at a faster rate than public sector employment is being cut, and increasingly these positions are full-time and not just part-time.
But life is still very hard for many people and we have a long way to go before things are back to normal. Labour’s ‘Great Recession’ inflicted enormous damage on our economy and the whole country is poorer than it was before 2008. Some people have been particularly badly hit.
My priority is to do whatever I can to help those people overcome any obstacles and share in the benefits of a return to growth.
Anyone who has tried to lose weight or get fit knows that the first few weeks are easy but don’t make much difference. The key is to keep going, to sustain the commitment as months turn into years and embed the new regime into your daily life. The same is true of the economy. A country which flirts with an economic strategy for a few years – cuts public spending and keeps taxes and interest rates low – but then falls off the wagon and starts bingeing again will reap no benefit.
That benefit only comes after several years, and it can only be maintained if the country sticks to the plan and makes economic discipline part of the way it does business.
Britain has a long-term economic plan. It is working. Let’s stick to it – so that everyone in our country benefits.