To be in work is one of the most important things. It gives the security of a pay packet and the independence of being able to take care of yourself and your family. It also carries dignity and purpose, and is roundly agreed to be a source of good mental health.
That's why I've made it one of my guiding principles, to encourage more jobs for people in Norwich. I founded Norwich for Jobs to help more young people into work, which shows we can achieve better employment locally. But the national economy is crucial too.
So it's excellent news that according to official figures released this month, employment is at a record high of 75.1%. This means there are over 32 million people in work.
Unemployment is at a record low of 4.4% - this is the lowest unemployment rate since 1971. Women might be leading the charge – record numbers of women are now in employment. What's more, the youth unemployment rate has decreased again to 12.2%.
This is good news for everyone. It is thanks to employers – and thanks to the environment of the strengthening economy which the Conservatives have brought about. Of course, to have more people in work further strengthens the economy in turn and also brings in taxes to fund public services. For all these reasons, Conservatives believe in work.
There's more to do: in the letter I have included below from Damian Hinds, the Minister for Employment, you will see the Government plans to roll out Universal Credit to jobcentres nationwide. You will see in the letter the achievements the application of Universal Credit has had. The bottom line is that we want to create a welfare system where even more people are in work rather than on benefit, and this does just that.
There may be some who would seek to undermine these figures by claiming the employment rate is inflated by those who are on zero-hour contracts. That is a false claim. The vast majority of the increase has overwhelmingly been in full-time employment. The number of employees who work on zero-hour contracts makes up less than 3% of the total employment rate and has reduced by 20,000 on the prior year.
In the East of England there are now over 3 million people in work – an increase of 288,000 since 2010. In Norwich North, there are now 60% fewer people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance. The number now stands at 810, from over 1,200 in 2010. Locally and nationally, we can be confident as Britain progresses with Brexit negotiations. I want to see even more good jobs for my constituents.