People have been flocking to Peterborough for generations; businesses attracted by a hardworking and skilled workforce and people by the employment opportunities and quality of life.
And thanks to the pro-business policies put in place by this Government, with a lower tax burden for businesses and people, Peterborough has not only continued to be successful, but it is thriving.
As a result, there are now over 1,000 more businesses located in Peterborough than when we came into Government in 2010, creating new jobs for the local community.
I was recently fortunate enough to visit Westcombe Engineering, in Peterborough, an exciting local business providing disabled people with the opportunity to enjoy a career in engineering.
Why is this important? Because it’s vital that everyone in society should have the opportunity to succeed in life, regardless of their background, their circumstances or their needs, and we are committed to providing the right support to help people earn a living and reach their full potential.
The level of employment is at a record level under the Conservative Government this year, with nearly 33 million people now in work. But equally satisfying is that in the last five years alone 930,000 more disabled people have entered the workplace, helping to ensure we have a record number of disabled people in work.
This means that more people are able to earn a living and support themselves and their family, and more importantly that everyone can experience the dignity, the independence and the mental health benefits of having a job they love doing.
Being in employment has the potential to transform someone’s life.
It gives you independence with the chance to earn a living, giving people dignity and control.
And that is why the Conservative Government is working tirelessly to help those with disabilities find the right job for them, and to provide them with the specialist support they may need to succeed.
We have just increased the Access to Work grant, now providing disabled people with £60,000 a year to support them at work, from adapting their workplace environment to providing assistive technology and transportation. And we’re encouraging more businesses to sign up to become Disability Confident every day. The combination of our support now means that people with disabilities are able to live more independent, fulfilling lives than under the previous Labour Government.
It’s not just Government support that will result in further progress for helping people with disabilities into the workplace, with businesses also required to play their part. And by doing so they will reap the rewards of employing more highly skilled people.
Westcombe Engineering is an example of an innovative business whose approach to its employees has led to unprecedented success, both for the business and its employees.Sales at the business, which is owned by Peterborough City Council, have increased by 60 per cent over the last three years.
More than 65 per cent of employees at the business have a disability, demonstrating that there should be no barriers to success. It is businesses like this that should inspire organisations across the country to follow suit, to provide more employment opportunities and support for those talented individuals who just happen to also have a disability.
It is this Government’s ambition to help a million more disabled people into work by 2025. We know we can succeed.