This week Parliament is in recess for the Whitsun Bank Holiday so I thought it was a good opportunity to bring residents from across my Aldridge-Brownhills constituency up to date on some of the recent work in Parliament.
The Government remain focused on domestic matters and getting on with the day job of building a country that works for everyone, and for this months update I have included jobs and housing.
The latest round of economic figures showed that employment is now at a record high, unemployment at a 40-year low, and the number of young people out of work is down by nearly half a million. Wages are now rising faster than prices which is good news and growth in real wages means that people are starting to feel the benefit of more money in their pockets. This is a turning point as we build a stronger, fairer economy that works for everyone.
Some of us will remember taking that big step of buying our first home. I certainly do. The decision therefore to cut stamp duty for 95% of first-time buyers is something I welcome, and it has started to help a new generation of homeowners with the number of first-time buyers at its highest since 2007. In addition to this however, we are also ensuring that we build the homes that people need and that housing in the rented sector is also affordable.
The Tenant Fees Bill also continued its passage through Parliament. This legislation will ensure that tenants are only required to pay their rent and deposit when securing a property in the private rented sector, it will abolish most upfront fees and it also caps security deposits at the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. This is another way to tackle housing affordability for everyone.
On a slightly different theme, but a topic which many of you have corresponded with me upon, I am pleased to see that the Government have now introduced a Bill to ban ivory sales, as part of our commitment to strengthen protections for animal welfare. The new legislation will mean that the United Kingdom ban will be one of the toughest in the world and will cover ivory items of all ages that directly or indirectly fuel elephant poaching demonstrating our global leadership on animal welfare.
When Parliament resumes I am sure it promises to be a busy time.