Too many people in our country are budgeting week to week in low-paid and insecure jobs, without knowing how much money will be coming through the door. There are now more people living in poverty who have jobs than there are people living in poverty who are out of work.
It is my belief that if we do not share the proceeds of growth fairly, then the moral foundations of our economy are called into question. So we must be tough on tackling inequality as the biggest moral, social and economic challenge facing modern Britain. Our approach will require reform, redistribution and a renewed focus on productivity and growth.
The high levels of insecurity and inequality in our country are damaging our economy. So more needs to be done to promote a living wage, tackle insecure work and zero-hour contracts.
Government must play its part. Investment in infrastructure has fallen dramatically in recent years, but with borrowing costs so low, it is the right time to make productive investments. If we are to spread economic prosperity across the country then investing in the infrastructure of regions like Yorkshire will be crucial.
A clear industrial strategy requires greater investment in Research and Development, an area in which we have fallen far behind other countries. We have world-leading businesses in this country which can be even more successful with strategic investment in infrastructure and research projects.
We also need to recognise the role of Trade Unions in building a more equal and sustainable economy. The powers of Trade Unions has been curtailed by the Trade Union Bill introduced by this Conservative Government. We need to strengthen Trade Unions wherever possible so that they can fight for better wages and working conditions for their members.
Trade Unions can play an important role in helping to reskill the workforce in those sectors undergoing rapid change. In recent years the Community Union has supported retraining and reskilling workers who have lost their jobs in the steel industry.
By building a fairer and more sustainable economy we can improve the living standards of everyone in our country.