Securing more jobs and investment for our community is a key priority for me. This is why the latest jobs figures for our area are so welcome. The figures show that at the height of the pandemic there was a big increase of residents needing out of work benefits. But last month, the numbers were continuing to reduce down, back towards pre-pandemic levels. Even better, the number of young people on out of work benefits is now lower than before the pandemic.
While there is a sense of progress, it’s vital we to continue to seek jobs and investment at every turn. The shock of P&O’s disgraceful sacking of hard working and loyal ferry workers underlines that there can be no room for complacency. This is a key reason I have strongly supported new investment in our area, including the building of new Border Facilities in Dover.
The first of these border facilities is now moving ahead. Last week I carried out the ground-breaking for the new facility. It will be operated by HMRC and is expected to see more than £80million investment secured for our area and attract 400 jobs. The facility will handle checks on lorries coming into Dover from across the English Channel.
The second planned facility is for Dover port health checks. This is expected to bring hundreds more jobs when it is in full operation. In taking forward this investment it has been important to ensure the concerns of our community are listened to. This is why I have worked hard to ensure that community concerns have been taken into account in the design and delivery of the border facility.
An important part of my role is to work closely with Ministers to deliver for our community. That includes ensuring there is support on hand for the ferry workers who were so disgracefully sacked by P&O. As a result I was able to secure the support of the national rapid response jobs taskforce team to help find people work. In addition the Council’s Jobs Fair this week will also showcase the many jobs opportunities available across our area.
Jobs and investment matters because the stability and security of a regular pay packet helps people to be able to plan for the future. This is why I am so concerned by the rise in the cost of living which has come about due to the disruption of the pandemic. It has been made much worse by the war in Ukraine. Rising costs make it harder to manage today and difficult to plan for the future. I have been working hard to press Ministers to do all they can to help ease the difficulties so many families and older people face.
Jobs and investment for our area are so important to us all. I will continue to seek more investment and do all I can to help attract good, skilled and well-paying jobs to our area.