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Monday April 21 - Dudley’s economy continues to grow.
4:33pm Monday 21st April 2008 in News
This week's papers have been full of doom and gloom about the economy, because a few estate agents or building societies have published figures suggesting house prices are in meltdown.
But when you look at the facts, you see a completely different picture.
Land Registry statistics are impartial and comprehensive, unlike those put out by various interest groups representing lenders, surveyors and estate agents.
They show that average house prices based on actual sales in the real economy have increased since this time last year by 5.3 percent, ranging from 10.6 percent in London to 1.9 percent in the North-East.
While it is correct that house price growth has been slowing, and is flat in some places, the reality is that house prices are actually holding up.
Here in Dudley, for example, house prices are up 5.7%, against an average for the West Midlands of 3.4%.
What's more, Thursday's employment figures showed our local economy is continuing to grow, with the number of people out of work and claiming benefits falling by three per cent, in line with the national average.
Despite the current global economic uncertainties unemployment has continued to fall, redundancies are at a record low and the number of jobs is at a record high.
These figures flatly contradict the gloom that the Tories have been spreading over the last few days, showing: The largest annual increase in employment since 1997.
The number of people in employment is the highest on record at 29.5 million.
The number of vacancies is at a record high, rising 12,000 on the quarter to 687,600.
The number redundancies are at a record low - down 17,000 to 106 thousand.
Unemployment is continuing to fall, down 90,000 from a year ago.
These figures show there is little excuse for not working and I want to make sure people get off benefits and into work, but it is clear that the days when whole cities and towns suffered from high unemployment are gone with over a million fewer people on benefits than 10 years ago.
This record level of employment has only happened because we have taken the tough, long-term decisions that are right for our economy.
This data flatly contradicts the gloom that the Tories have been trying to spread over the last couple of days. What would be a disaster is the Tory economic policy of billions of pounds of unfunded tax promises, which would undermine economic stability and risk taking Britain back to the days of 15 per cent interest rates and three million unemployed.
The Conservatives will be disappointed by these figures, because they have been desperately spreading gloom and talking our economy down for the last few days.
They want to undermine our record on the economy, because they know that ordinary people do not believe David Cameron and his party are on their side when it comes to jobs and housing.
Look at what they achieved when David Cameron was working at the Treasury as an adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Tories were last in power: Unemployment went over 3 million twice and was "a price worth paying", the number on Incapacity Benefit trebled, more than 5.5million people were on out of work' benefits in 1997 and one in three children were growing up in poverty Today the Tories would make the same mistakes putting tax cuts and uncosted spending promises that do not add up ahead of the economic stability that creates jobs. Their welfare plans are not focused on supporting people into work but on chasing savings to meet their tax and spending black hole.