I have always been clear that economic regeneration is my number one priority locally. The towns of Camborne, Redruth and Hayle all made an astonishing contribution to the industrial revolution but in recent years, things have been harder, key industries went in to decline, there was a loss of confidence followed by the growth of welfare dependency which has trapped too many people in poverty.
Despite the gloom and doom that you hear in the news, when it comes to unemployment there have been some encouraging signs which might mean we have started to turn the corner. Unemployment has been falling for five months now, including here in Camborne and Redruth. For the first time we have started to see more young people between the ages of 16-24 finding jobs. This is important because youth unemployment started rising as long ago as 2005, even as the world economy was booming, and the longer people are out of work, the harder it is to start.
People sometimes say that there is high unemployment locally, but if you look at the facts we are actually about average and mid way down the table compared with other towns across the country. I am by no means complacent but we should not talk ourselves down. I would like to see more jobs and better paid jobs locally and I think there are a number of things that must be done. First we need to attract new industries and support the construction of new infrastructure that will unlock the potential of derelict land and create jobs.
Secondly we need to ensure that we have a skilled workforce to encourage employers to locate here and that is why I think the expansion of real apprenticeships has been so important so that young people can learn skills in a real working environment while also earning money.
Finally, we need really intensive support to help those who have been out of work for a long time, have lost their confidence and are trapped on benefits. Sometimes you see households where people have not worked for two or three generations and it is a really damaging cycle which leads to wasted human potential. In the long term, it does no favours to those condemned to a life on benefits.
Last week I met a new organisation which has recently started up in Cornwall which runs intensive courses to motivate people and raise their confidence and self esteem ready for work. They often encourage those attending the courses to do unpaid voluntary work initially and they are getting good results with the majority of those doing unpaid work trials being offered paid jobs afterwards. We need to cut through the defeatism and let it be known that Camborne, Redruth and Hayle are towns that get things done.
George Eustice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.