SHADOW Chancellor Ed Balls breezed into Worcester today - heaping praise on one of the city's top employers.

The Labour big-hitter had a tour of Worcester Bosch, talking to 60 apprentices who landed dream jobs with the company.

During a sit-down interview with your Worcester News Mr Balls praised the city's manufacturing and engineering heritage, saying it holds the key to the nation's economic recovery.

He also suggested people in Worcester are still finding life hard due to a "cost of living crisis", and urged Chancellor George Osborne to address it in next Wednesday's budget.

He said: "If you ask people in Worcester whether they are seeing the benefits of an economic recovery, I think the answer will be no.

"For me, most people would say there's been no recovery, if you work in say the NHS or elsewhere you've faced pay freezes and prices have gone up."

He said he was energised by Worcester Bosch, which employs more than 1,000 people at its base off Cotswold Way, in Warndon.

"What I've seen today is absolutely fantastic, there were 60 apprentices up there and it was clear to me how much they enjoy being here," he said.

"If you can land an apprenticeship here it's a dream job.

"This kind of flourishing manufacturing plant is what we need more of, I'm very impressed by it."

He was accompanied by Councillor Joy Squires, Worcester's parliamentary candidate at the next general election, and said people should "vote Joy" to help Labour into Government.

He also told your Worcester News Mr Osborne's budget should offer more help for families, and revealed he was concerned about the possibility of the Bank of England increasing interest rates too early.

The bank's Governor Mark Carney has revealed rates could rise six-fold to three per cent by 2017 if Britain's recovery grows in momentum.

"The concern I have is that we could see interest rates go up too early before the economy has really picked up," said Mr Balls.

During his stay he got to tour the HQ, talking to workers about their jobs.

He also took part in an interview with the BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson, which is being screened to the nation on BBC1 news tonight.


ENERGY minister Greg Barker came to Worcester to see how the city's householders are saving on their energy bills.

The Government minister went on a tour of Worcester's Brickfields area earlier today, talking to residents that have had the 'brick effect render' done on their properties.

Over the last year 500 social housing tentants have benefited from a £750,000 Worcester Community Housing project to have an extra layer of cladding around their home.

It is being credited with keeping people warmer, and saving on fuel bills.

The scheme is in line to be rolled out further, with most of the funds for it coming from central Government.

David Burgess, 65, who lives with wife Lynda, also 65, in Glenthorne Avenue, had the rendering done in May last year.

Mr Burgess, a retired mechanical fitter, said: "It's been great, the scheme has certainly made a difference.

"It is five degress outside but the house has no heating on and it's currently 20 degrees inside here.

"I can leave the heating off for hours."

Under the deal, the couple paid around £1,500 for the work on the basis it would steadily bring energy bills down.

Social housing tenants without the means are having the work done for free on a strict priority basis, with Westdale Services contracted to carry it out.

Around 250 private home owners in Worcester have paid for it to be done.

Mr Barker said: "Worcester is a great example for the rest of Britain on this.

"I think it's great, the Government is commited to it and clearly, saving on energy bills when they are so high is really important."