Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 26 September 2013


Would you like some good news? Every month we get from the House of Commons library the unemployment figures broken down per constituency. This area has long been in the top ten percent top of the list, but last month's figures were exceptional.

The number of unemployed claimants in South West Devon constituency in August 2013 was 583. This represents a rate of 1.3% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64, the 636th highest of the 650 UK constituencies. In other words only 14 other constituencies have a lower unemployment rate.

The number of claimants is 245 lower than in August 2012 and 57 lower than in July 2013. I realise that 583 people looking for work is still 583 too many, but clearly our local economy is doing well.

The number of people unemployed in the whole country was 2.49 million people in May-July 2013, down 24,000 from the previous quarter and down 105,000 from the previous year. The unemployment rate is now 7.7%.

In Plymouth the unemployment percentage is about 5%

So Plymouth is doing considerably better than the national average, which is not always the case, and at 1.3% Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge are doing exceptionally well, recording what is (when you take usual turnover into account) effectively full employment.

How is this happening? Over recent years we have seen the gradual diversification of our business sector and the arrival of some new cutting edge technological firms, usually set up by bright young people, sometimes students from Plymouth University.

We also have a rich nexus of small local firms and some of them are getting busier after some very tough years.

Some of the small and medium size enterprises I visit in the constituency, typically employing 60 to 100 people and making high precision gadgets that I usually do not understand, are experiencing strong exports and just beginning to feel more confident about the future.

It is the hard work of our local businessmen and women, the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs, that has produced the excellent statistics I have set out above.

There are still some potential shocks along the way, notably more euro-zone instability, but it might just be that we are turning the corner. With more people in work and fewer people claiming benefit, maybe we can get the deficit in public finances under control more quickly than the 5 to 7 years slog that I have predicted. I certainly hope so.

posted by Gary @ 09:15