POSITIVE and important economic news came through this week when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the UK would avoid a recession.

This forecaster has been getting its view of Britain wrong for a while now. Many, including me, thought its downbeat assessment of our economic fortunes very gloomy.

The IMF now expects the UK economy to grow by 0.4 per cent in 2023. Last month it said it would contract by 0.3 per cent. Some turnaround. It said if we stick to the plan set out by the Chancellor, then “our long-term growth prospects are stronger than in Germany, France and Italy”.

The fact is we have had a resilient economy and employment rates remain very high. The doom and gloom forecasters, who like to talk us down, were wrong. I am out and about in Stourbridge a lot and I get a good feel for what is happening and how people are feeling. There is positivity about an improving economic situation.

We now have falling energy prices. Inflation, although still stubborn, is going to come down. Problems do remain, especially the numbers who are not in work due to sickness, but the general situation is upbeat.

If things continue to improve then down the line, I will want to see tax cuts. The people of Stourbridge should be able to keep more of what they earn.

In other good news, the government continues to help with cost-of-living pressures. The £2 single bus fare has been extended until October 31 2023 The West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has announced £2 billion of private investment secured and that means 14,000 new jobs and new employment areas across the region.

EasyJet is to open a new base at Birmingham Airport next year creating 1,200 new jobs. Nationally a record £17.7 billion of Japanese investment is coming to the UK following a deal and that means more jobs too.

Finally, the West Midlands is the only region in the country meeting its agreed housing target of 215,000 new homes by 2031. Great news but more needs to be done to free up the planning process using a brownfield first policy while protecting the greenbelt.

We also need more community engagement and ensure council planners have the resources they need for their vital work. There is too much red tape, too much land banking and often construction is not keeping up with demand.

I am looking forward to speaking with the Minister of State for housing and Planning on June 7 to discuss all this and how we can take the slack out of the process and build those much-needed homes for our children and grandchildren.