From my first day as your MP it has been a priority for me to help secure growth in employment and job creation here in Hastings and Rye.
The most recent UK Labour Market Statistics are a very welcome read: the number of people in our area claiming the key out of work benefits in August 2016 was 9% lower than a year ago and 58% lower than in 2010 – that’s 1,883 people in the constituency no longer on unemployment benefits. But I know there is still more to do.
Last Friday I held my sixth Jobs Fair. Over the years this fair has expanded to include apprenticeships and training opportunities.
I was delighted to see such a wide range of employers and sectors represented and I would like to thank Amicus Horizon and Saga who were Gold Sponsors for the event and Silver Sponsors Hastings Direct. Also, Santander, M&S, Greggs and EE who put on a Careers Hub, and St Michael’s Hospice which arranged a fashion show to highlight that you don’t need to spend a fortune to dress well for a job interview.
I was also pleased to be able to meet with students from The St Leonard’s Academy and The Hastings Academy at the Jobs Fair, and talk to them about employment and career choices.
Locally, organisations such as the Jobcentre and PeoplePlus – whose office I visited recently – do excellent work supporting people into employment.
While all this and other schemes to boost employment are ongoing in our area, attracting increased job creation is key to the future growth of our towns.
Along with local colleagues, I am keeping up the pressure to secure a fast rail link between London, Rye and Hastings. Economic analysis predicts this would add 425 jobs per year to the local economy and attract substantial business and housing investment.
Also, I am supporting the Hastings BID initiative which aims to make the town a better place to do business – driving up customer numbers, championing Hastings and its businesses, attracting high quality investment and helping companies cut their overheads.
Our local economy is becoming increasingly dynamic. Adding to our strengths in tourism – with visitors attracted to the beautiful streets of Rye, our local festivals and our magnificent coastline stretching from Camber to Pett, Fairlight, Hastings and St Leonards – we are becoming a cultural hub on the south coast with increasingly bustling town centres. Also, as I tour local businesses such as General Dynamics Mission Systems-UK, Kurt J Lesker and Plastipack, our skills in engineering and manufacturing are also clear to see.
Furthering Hastings and Rye’s ongoing regeneration towards a more diverse economy and even higher employment are central to my work as your MP. I will continue to do what I can – holding employment events and championing our towns and businesses – to make our area an even better place to find a job and build a career.