Andrew Stephenson MP: Pendle companies are leading the way

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The House of Commons broke for half-term recess, so MPs have had a week for a half-term break with their families or to catch up with work in their constituencies.

I have taken the opportunity to catch up with some of our great local businesses, visiting companies like ACDC Lighting, engineering firm R.N. Co. Ltd in Barrowford, Kirk Environmental and Let’s Play Ltd in Nelson, Thunder Technology in Fence, and the brand new “Live like the Boy” shop in Shackleton Hall, Colne. It is fantastic to see so many Pendle businesses doing well and expanding their operations.

ACDC Lighting is a great example of such a fast growing business. I last visited the business three years ago when they had just moved into their current premises near Nelson and Colne College. Three years on, the business has grown at such a rate they are about to have to move part of the operations to a new site (still in Barrowford) before they run out of space.

With around 55% of their business being done overseas, the company was recognised with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2012 and now has a London showroom which I hope to pop into sometime. Companies like ACDC and others in Pendle are proving how we can still be world leaders in manufacturing and engineering, exporting our products around the globe.

I am keen to do whatever I can to support our small and medium-sized companies and with Pendle Council’s “Grants for Growth” scheme, the Regenerate Pennine Lancashire “Accelerating Business Growth” Fund and Regional Growth Fund, there is a lot of support out there.

The success of our local businesses can be seen reflected in the local unemployment figures, which fell again in January to just 4.8% across Pendle. Nationwide, the fall in long-term unemployment has been particularly welcome and shows the training and support the Government is offering is helping people move off benefits and into work.

The latest figures also show another big increase in full-time jobs, with half a million more British people in work over the past year and more women in employment than ever before. The UK is now ahead of many its international rivals when it comes to cutting unemployment and creating jobs which is so important as we try to deal with the deficit.

During the past week, I also visited the Grassroots Centre at St Philip’s Church, Nelson, to see the support they are providing jobseekers with, such as IT training and ESOL classes. I also met with the Job Centre to discuss plans for my next Pendle Jobs Fair.

The last one I organised at the Muni in Colne was very well received by local employers and also helped a number of people into apprenticeships, work or further training.

I am keen to ensure the next one, which is due to take place later this year, will be even more effective at helping as many unemployed people as possible.