Disability Confident

While we have near record levels of people in employment, too many disabled people are missing out. We need to close the gap between the number of disabled people who want to work and the opportunities available to do so – not just to benefit those who have the skills and desire to work, but also to ensure employers are not missing out on a huge pool of talent.

Many employers already have a strong track record in this area, which is why we want to encourage a business to business approach where organisations can learn from each other.

A range of government support is on offer from our Access to Work service, which provides disabled people with support or adjustments they need in the workplace, to the Disability Confident scheme, which helps employers do more to recruit and retain disabled workers. To date more than 5,000 employers have signed up to Disability Confident. Across the country, almost 600,000 disabled people have entered work in the last four years. I’m determined to build on this so that everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential.

Last week I helped launch our ten year vision to see one million more disabled people work. Our new Work and Health Programme brings together employers, the welfare system and health services and will not only support disabled people and people with health conditions who want to enter work, but also focus on supporting them to stay in work. No two people are the same and the Health and Work Programme will be testing and evaluating new approaches to find out what works best.

The change needed is not one Government can deliver alone. We all have a part to play to enable disabled people to play as full a part in our community as possible.

First published in the West Briton


Lighting the Beacon in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Working with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business we have organised the upcoming event “Lighting the Beacon in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly”.

The event aims to build confidence amongst businesses to help them to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce. In particular, we would like to help them employ those who have disabilities or who are long-term unemployed but would like to find employment. The free event is being held at Truro and Penwith College in Truro on Thursday 26th October from 9.30 am until 1pm.

The event will be a great opportunity to meet likeminded businesses and skills providers, including Job Centre Plus, and the new Skills Access Hub team as part of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Hub.

While there are great examples of inclusive, local employers, the fact remains that there are still too many local people who would like to work but are currently excluded from doing so. I very much hope that all local businesses will come along and consider the benefits of inclusive employment for their business.

Whilst Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are leading on the inclusive growth agenda, these long term issues affecting growth in our region can only be tackled by working in collaboration. This event will be the starting point in working together with key stakeholders and businesses, to shape an action plan as to how Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can be a ‘beacon’ region leading the way on inclusive growth.

If you are interested in the event please use the following link to find out more and to book a place:


First published in the West Briton

Looking Back at 2016

2016 will be remembered as the year Britain chose to leave the European Union and for the U.S. Presidential Election, the results of which challenged conventional expectations. I will remember saying good bye to David Cameron, who was a good friend to Cornwall and welcoming Teresa May on her first visit to Cornwall as our new Prime Minister.

2016 has seen some important successes for our constituency, too many to list in the 300 words permitted! Ensuring local people have genuinely affordable, decent homes to rent or buy remains a top priority. We have made progress including: enabling enforcement of improved housing standards; reduced costs for tenants; more affordable homes for local people.

I was delighted to secure the commitment from Government that stamp duty on the sale of second homes will be used to support more community led housing. Cornwall Community Land Trust will be receiving money to build up their capacity to help more local people into new homes and new trusts could bring old buildings into use for homes.

Improved funding of our vital public services, including education and policing depends on a strong economy and growing businesses. I am pleased that we have record numbers of men and women of all ages in employment here. While there is more to do, wages are rising and income taxes are falling.

Local businesses are making good use of the Cornwall Growth Hub that was set up this year to provide a one stop advise and support service for local businesses.

One area that is not doing as well as I would like is our local NHS and social care services. Despite the hard work of those on the front line, increased resources and more local decision making, ensuring better progress in 2017 is essential.

Happy New Year!

First published in the West Briton 28/12/16

Employment in Truro & Falmouth

Last week we learned that unemployment in Truro & Falmouth, the number of people claiming the key out of work benefits, has fallen by 565 – a 42 per cent drop – since 2010.

As well as unemployment continuing to run at a 10-year low, the number of women in work is at a record high and youth unemployment is also significantly reduced. Across the country, there are 31.8 million people in work, up by 2.7 million since 2010 – that’s well over 1,000 jobs created on average every day – and average wages excluding bonuses grew by 2.6 per cent over the last year.

This is good news but there is more to do to help people of all backgrounds and abilities into work. Also to help people already working into more secure and better paid employment opportunities.

Building an economy that works for everyone means making sure everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential, providing the security of a regular income so they can provide for themselves and their family.

That includes investing in education and skills training for people of all ages. Thanks to the dedication of teachers in our local schools we are saw continued progress in 2016. Truro & Penwith College is one of the best in the country. Local employers are embracing apprenticeships and opportunities to work with graduates from our local universities.

I will continue to do all that I can to support improved educational opportunities.

Having campaigned for many years for a revision of the funding formula used to allocate resources to our local schools, I was pleased last week that the Government launched a consultation that recognises the challenges for schools in sparsely populated and relatively deprived communities like ours. I hope all schools will participate in this consultation to help me secure fairer funding.

Published in the West Briton 21/12/16