As I write this column, there are 100 hundred days to go until the General Election. Since 2010, the Conservative government has worked hard to turn the economy around – the job is far from finished and there is much more we have to do in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Across the Vale employment is booming, and I have met many of the businesses that have seen significant growth and created many jobs. The number of unemployed claimants is 418 lower than at the same point last year, and continues to fall significantly. That means another 418 local families in the Vale are benefitting from the security of a regular wage. I fully expect this trend to continue in 2015 and in to 2016. Nationally, 1.75 million more people are in employment since 2010 and the 760,000 new businesses have the ability to transform many communities.
The government is doing more, from April the Employment Allowance means that businesses recruiting staff can save up to £2,000 on employers National Insurance bills. This scheme has been uniformly welcomed at the businesses I have met around the Vale.
The economy grew at 2.6% in 2014 – the best year of growth since 2007 and the fastest growing G7 economy. The growth combined with a major reduction in income taxes and improved communications has resulted in a fertile environment for job creation in the Vale of Glamorgan. A new business needs lower taxes, skilled employees and fast communications – this is something I have pressed for since my election in 2010. In many parts of the Vale broadband speeds and mobile phone reception have improved significantly and more areas will be coming on line in 2015.
There are still a number of not-spots and I am in regular communication with network providers. The government is committed to ensuring areas that need better broadband and mobile phone reception in the rural Vale are prioritised.
There are significant challenges for the NHS in Wales. The need for a solution to patients missing out on vital drugs by way of a cancer drugs fund is clear to me. £123m has been provided to the Welsh Government in extra funding and this should be used for providing service that makes a difference to the lives of patients. The answer however is not just about funding.
The Welsh Government has controlled health since 1999, and I think most observers would agree that it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. This newspaper has highlighted many of the disturbing cases of unfairness and lack of care – it is only right that we draw attention to cases when care falls short of expectations.
We are working through the long term economic plan to transform the economy – reducing the deficit means we can continue to invest by living within our means. We can only build on the progress we have made in securing the recovery if we have a strong economy.