Don’t put our hard-earned recovery at risk

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Like me, you have probably seen a number of encouraging reports about how well the economy is doing.

More people are in work than ever before and wages are finally matching inflation, which continues to fall.

After the worst recession in living memory when 750,000 jobs were lost, this news is welcome but we still have a long way to go.

Importantly, we are seeing improvements locally. Regionally, 70,000 more people are in work across the North West since the last election.

Really encouraging is that manufacturing output is up, 3.8% higher than a year ago. The number of local employers at my recent Jobs Fair in Colne looking for staff showed how things are changing and the doubling of apprenticeships in Pendle means more opportunities for our young people.

One major boost which is still yet to be secured will be Assisted Area Status for most of Pendle’s 20 wards.

This will mean many of our businesses are eligible for regional financial support and will be the first time any part of Pendle has been included.

The plan is still being discussed and I am continuing to push for Pendle to be able to receive this support.

Local businesses are benefiting from direct Government support too. Nelson-based Mackintosh announced 60 new jobs last month following a £150,000 grant from Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, funded via the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, and growing Colne engineering firm NR Automatics has been awarded £176,000 as part of a £40m project to improve the automotive supply chain.

Despite all this, there is no room for complacency.

The recovery is not yet secure and there is still much to do. The jobs under threat at Rolls Royce in Barnoldswick are a sign of the challenges we still face. It is important we stay focused and not put this hard-earned recovery at risk.