Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has told his fellow Lib Dems that Britain has been brought back from the very edge of financial disaster, but that much work remains to get the country back onto a safe footing.
The speech from the Lib Dem leader was part of a new year video message to campaigners and he warned that despite the amount of progress made against the country’s debts, the year ahead was likely to hold ‘many great challenges.’
Nick Clegg told his followers in his broadcast that it was the Lib Dems who were driving the coalition in the right direction and insisted that changes forced upon the Conservatives, such as increasing the income tax threshold to benefit the most poverty stricken households, had taken ‘real strength.’
The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged that some of the decisions had meant more hardship but said that he believed the measures had been necessary in order to avert a deeper financial crisis. Mr Clegg pointed to the situation in many European countries as proof and claimed that Britain could have been in the same position if the ‘very difficult decisions’ had not been made by the coalition, describing the UK as having ‘been pulled back from the brink.’
Whilst he was quick to point out the many successes the party had enjoyed whilst in joint leadership with the Tories, the Lib Dem boss said that the focus remains the same for 2012 as it had for the previous year. Mr Clegg said that in his 2011 broadcast he had described the importance of dealing with the ‘inherited economic problems’ and that the ‘number one priority’ was the same for the next twelve months.
However, despite Nick Clegg triumphing over the state of the British economy, a separate survey reveals that not all statistics paint the picture as being quite as rosy.
The yearly report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates that the number of those unemployed in the UK will increase by a further 210,000, taking the total of economically active but out of work to 8.8%. The last time the country had such as high rate of unemployment was 20 years ago in the recession of the 1990s.
The number of public sector jobs is set to tumble by around a further 120,000, but with the private sector unable to expand rapidly enough to balance out the losses, a ‘mild jobs recession’ is predicted.
The report also warns that the drop in employment will not improve in the short term, as the number of those with jobs is expected to continue to fall until the middle of 2013, when it is estimated to reach 2.9 million. A small-scale recovery has then been predicted but the total number of Brits out of work is expected to remain above 2.5 million until around 2015.
With economic growth predicted at just 0.4% for 2012, even worse than the measly 0.9% seen in 2011, the report from the CIPD has warned that workers will continue to feel financial pain, with many employers continuing to operate on scaled back budgets. The body also said that household budgets would continue to be hit as income continues to fall further behind rises in cost of living, even though inflation is expected to drop.
The CIPD report’s predictions were backed up by a separate study by recruitment firm, Totaljobs. The online jobs firm says that it expects the number of available roles to sharply drop in the first six months of 2012, with entry level positions the hardest hit, meaning younger workers could struggle the most.