I was fortunate today to have the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister about improving employment opportunities in Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (I put in each week for a question, but MPs are only occasionally successful in the ballot - it is very well subscribed!) Unemployment nationally stands at 3.9%, as low as it has been in a generation, but it is higher locally.
I was delighted earlier this month to witness the signing of the Ayrshire Growth Deal 'heads of terms' agreement, where £251.5m of funding was confirmed (full details here). This will certainly benefit employment locally, but we also need a greater focus on targeting employment initiatives where they are most needed. I asked the Prime Minister if she would consider this, and I will continue to press for support for employment locally.
Bill Grant (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock)
The United Kingdom’s average unemployment rate is a remarkable 4%, which is a very welcome low. In Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, however, it stands at 6.5%. Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance to my constituents that she will continue to work on building employment nationally, and with a particular focus on areas where unemployment is significantly higher than the UK average?
The Prime Minister
My hon. Friend has raised a particularly important issue, but if I may, I will pull him up on just one point. The unemployment rate across the UK is actually 3.9%. Employment in Scotland has risen by 239,000 since the 2010 election, and we saw in the spring statement that the economy is growing every year, borrowing is lower than expected and debt is falling, but I absolutely recognise my hon. Friend’s concerns. That is why we will continue to work as a UK Government to deliver more jobs, healthier finances and an economy that is fit for the future across the whole of the United Kingdom.