More good economic news this week with the IMF confirming that Britain is now the fastest growing major European economy and reports of the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment since 1997, those out of work falling by 167,000 and the British economy creating jobs at a much faster rate than most analysts had predicted.
There is absolutely no room for complacency though – growth must be sustained through private sector expansion and not just concentrated in the south east.
Encouragingly, growth and employment trends are happening right across the country, both in our constituency where the unemployment rate continues to fall, but also in areas which had been hit even harder in the last government’s recession.
We have to make sure that the economic progress is seen and not just talked about and it was good news that inflation fell back to its two per cent target rate in December and average petrol prices are now at their lowest for three years.
Of course, as we come out of the deepest recession for 100 years, wage growth will be subdued and incomes take time to recover but with an additional increase in the Personal Tax allowance this April (to £10,000), continued low interest rates for borrowers, frozen council tax and help for fuel bills, the progress will be felt in our pockets.
This welcome progress for Britain can continue – but only through making a long- term commitment to keep control of public spending, investing in infrastructure and supporting business growth, all of which are all key policies for the government.
I am continuing to focus on improving infrastructure locally with meetings planned with the Rail Minister to review electrification to Great Bedwyn and, on Friday, a working session with Wiltshire Council on the progress with the roll-out of high-speed broadband.
I am also focused on the less glamorous end of infrastructure spending – the need to upgrade those pipes that take away what we don’t want to think about.
BBC Wiltshire called me a “sewer anorak” last week when I mentioned that the average age of sewers in the UK is 60 years and that this had contributed to some flooding problems. But with ongoing drainage problems in places like Aldbourne as a result of under-investment in these vital resources, I will wear that badge with pride!
I shall be in Great Bedwyn village hall this Saturday morning for a public discussion of the problem so do come along if you can.