A report out this week lays bare one of the big challenges facing our region through its reliance on low wage employment. Analysis by the GMB trade union shows many areas in the North West have a high proportion of jobs paying below the living wage and too many people are living a breadline existence. If we want people to support their families, have holidays and enjoy a better life then we need to improve wages and that’s why I’m working hard to attract investment and bring better paid, skilled jobs to Rochdale.
Last week I met with the council leader, the new chief executive, the head of Rochdale Development Agency and business people who are looking to invest in Rochdale. It was a very positive meeting and I expect good news will come out of it.
I’m also delighted to hear that Hanson Springs has been awarded a £1.4million grant from the Regional Growth Fund to help them expand their business. This is a great local specialist manufacturer and a fantastic family business. The money will help them create 30 new jobs and safeguard a further 60 jobs. So this is excellent news for the town.
One of the big issues creeping up the political agenda is social mobility. I want people who work hard in life to get on, realise their potential and earn a good wage. But an old view of social mobility is that people can only do this by moving away to a big city like London. So you might hear someone say, ‘didn’t he do well. Born in Rochdale and now a lawyer in London’. It’s time we replaced this notion of social mobility with one that allows people to progress in life without necessarily having to uproot themselves from the community they love in where their family is.
Bringing new investment into Rochdale, helping some of the best businesses in the town expand and encouraging entrepreneurs to launch new start-ups will begin to create a more dynamic local economy that can help people get on in life while retaining local talent.
Nationally, the Labour Party is working hard in developing policy that will support new business and help existing ones grow. On business rates, energy costs and access to finance through a new British Investment Bank we’re listening and acting on what businessmen and women need.
Confidence is now returning to Rochdale and by working hard with our Labour council I’m convinced we can start to see a real recovery take root.