Last week, I visited Redruth Job Centre. Unemployment is at its lowest level for many years and I was told that on one local job website alone, there were some 500 job vacancies within a five mile radius of Redruth.
I have always been impressed by the local management team at Redruth Job Centre. They have an enthusiasm and a passion for the area. They try new ideas and pilot new approaches nationally. They currently operate a call centre helpline from Redruth offering advice to benefit claimants nationally using the expertise that the team have developed over many years.
While no system we put in place will ever be perfect and different people need different support, we have to constantly try to improve the support we offer local people to help them back into work. Getting a job and being a valued part of a team in a working environment gives people purpose in life and can help on so many other fronts too. That is why we owe it to the long term unemployed to help them gain the confidence to take work.
About seven years ago under Gordon Brown's premiership, there was a severe problem with youth unemployment. When David Cameron became Prime Minister he introduced a new work experience programme so that young people who had left school or college could do work experience for a few weeks. It was contentious at the time and some dubbed it "slave labour" but they were proved completely wrong. The policy was an extraordinary success and many young people found work as a result. Youth unemployment has now fallen dramatically.
The next challenge is to help those with impairments or suffering from depression and anxiety back to work. A lot of progress has been made through schemes like Access to Work which provides grants to help people with a disability get any additional equipment they might need to help them get a job. There is also more work being done to redesign the "Work Programme" so that it provides additional help to those who are on Employment Support Allowance and other disability benefits and to help knock down the barriers to them joining the workplace where possible.
As the economy turns a corner, we need to make sure we continue to create better paid jobs for this part of Cornwall. As new companies arrive I want to see them become successful and profitable enough to offer higher wages so that we encourage people to take work and stay in work.