Unemployment is down, exports are booming but Paterson, Hague and Fox all urge Chancellor to do more
By Tim Montgomerie
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The latest jobs data have been published and they show another rise in employment. The number employed in Britain is now at 29.23 million, up by 105,000 this year. Over the same first quarter period we have also seen unemployment fall by 45,000 to 2.63 million.
“These figures are a welcome step in the right direction. For a number of months now employment has been growing and this is starting to feed through into improving unemployment figures. However, we still face significant international uncertainty so we need to hold firm on our current economic strategy and continue to do everything we can to ensure unemployment continues to fall.”
When you combine this news with the fact that exports rose by £50 billion last year it is hard to believe the official statistics and their suggestion that we are in a double dip recession. The Independent's Hamish McRae is certainly sceptical, noting that ONS data is subject to huge revisions.
There is no room for complacency, however, and Cabinet ministers are increasingly flexing their muscles on the need for a bolder growth policy. Two weeks ago the Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson set out a three point action plan for economic growth during a Cabinet meeting. He called for...
- Exemption of all micro businesses from red tape, following the model Ronald Reagan pursued in the early 1980s;
- Ending of all energy subsidies and then fast-tracked exploitation of shale gas;
- Urgent review of airport policy to ensure Britain gets its full share of global trade.
A letter from William Hague, meanwhile, on green growth has been leaked to The Guardian's Juliette Jowit. The Foreign Secretary emerges as a, perhaps, surprising champion of a move towards a low carbon economy. In his leaked letter he cites five big gains from doing so: "reducing exposure to volatile energy prices; revitalising manufacturing based in low carbon sectors; modernising infrastructure; reducing utility bills by cutting energy use, and it would have "a particular appeal for the under 30s"."
In today's FT (£) Liam Fox urges us to look to Germany for economic inspiration. The former Defence Secretary says that Germany has much to teach us on deregulation, investment in education and provision of childcare.