MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

The introduction of the new National Living Wage this week is one of the most significant innovations the government has introduced for British workers since coming to power.

It means workers aged 25+ must be paid at least £7.20 an hour by law from now on. By 2020 that is forecast to rise to £9.
In real terms it means 1.3 million of the lowest-paid in our society will now earn more for every hour they work. That is something we should all be proud of.

However, we must be wary of the impact this will have on employers as I certainly would not want to see our excellent work on unemployment, or indeed Fylde businesses, negatively impacted by the new living wage.

New statistics have confirmed annual business investment in 2015 strengthened further as living standards rose to their highest level ever. Updates this week also showed GDP growth of 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015, evidence that the economy finished the year stronger than it started.

But the UK is not immune to external risks and slowing global growth means now is not the time to put our economic security at risk with irresponsible spending.

Figures released this week showed the UK’s 24 Enterprise Zones have already created some 2,000 jobs. While progress on the Warton Enterprise Zone has been slow, I am hoping to see more employment there, and at its Blackpool Airport sister site, announced soon.

The success of the zone at Blackpool Airport is vital if we are to see a return of overseas holiday flights and I will do all I can to make that happen. In Warton, it is important that an area does not rely too heavily on a single employer which is why I fought so hard for an Enterprise Zone alongside BAE Systems, to attract new businesses and opportunities to that part of Fylde.

We have seen this week with the situation at Port Talbot what can happen when an area is overly reliant on a single industry for its prosperity. The decision of Tata Steel to abandon its UK operations is one which will have serious repercussions for the local economy in Cardiff Bay.

I firmly believe that we should support our homegrown industries and as someone who sits on the Transport Select Committee, I was pleased to see confirmation that Network Rail – which sources 95 per cent of its steel from the UK – will require 175,000 tonnes over the next six years to complete infrastructure projects.

Comments are closed.