New figures released this week have shown that there are now around 5,000 fewer workless households in Swindon than there were in 2010 and almost one million fewer nationally.
I have seen from my casework and my regular visits to the Swindon Job Centre how the move from being unemployed to going into work has turned around the lives of so many fellow local residents, with more individuals enjoying the freedom that comes from being in work and families benefitting from the security of a regular pay packet.
Across the UK, the number of people in work is at an all-time record high and unemployment is falling.
In Swindon there are nearly 11,000 more people in work today than there were in 2010 and our employment rate is much higher than the national average. In fact, our town has a higher employment rate and lower numbers of workless households than most major neighbouring towns.
The rise in employment and the fall in workless households isn’t just important for those finding work. Research has shown that children living in workless households are five times more likely to be in poverty and less likely to do well in school, compared to those growing up in households where the adults are working.
That is why it’s so important we help people into work, to benefit the whole family.
Of course it is right that we have a welfare system that supports the most vulnerable and protects those who cannot work or need more support.
This is why we spend over £50 billion a year in supporting people with disabilities and long-term health conditions – more money than we have ever spent before.
It is vital that we have a system which supports the most vulnerable, is fair to taxpayers and incentivises work (for those who are able to) over benefits.
Elsewhere, this week we have seen new plans announced to implement a new opt-out system of consent for organ and tissue donation.
The change will mean everyone is considered an organ donor unless they have explicitly recorded a wish not to be, are under-18 or don’t have the mental capacity to understand the changes. The aim is to help address the chronic lack of donors and could save around 700 more lives a year.
The proposed new system is expected to come into effect in England in spring 2020, with a 12-month transition period to allow for discussion on preferences.
Every day three people die waiting for a donor organ, which is why the plans to transform the way organ donation works are so important.
Donation rates are increasing, reflecting public support, but making this change will ensure we continue to see an increase in the number of lives that can be saved.