• On the Doorstep

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    02 September 2016

    Last week I was on the doorstep asking constituents about the national issues that matter to them, how well they thought the Government is doing and where we can improve. The response was generally positive although there is some nervousness around the result of the EU referendum. Farmers, for example, need to know that they will still be supported post Brexit and I was able to provide the reassurance that Theresa May’s new government has already announced that farmers receiving support via the EU will have this protected until at least 2020. This will provide some much needed reassurance and certainty to this vital part of our local economy. Generally the feeling is positive towards our new Prime Minister and government. Some, of course, rightly pointed out that these are early days but her comprehensive changes in the complexion of government with a stronger emphasis on ministers from more, in many ways, ordinary backgrounds along with a firm focus on ‘one nation’ and inclusive Conservatism seems to have found favour. This new emphasis is something that I too, strongly welcome and hope to see continued over this parliament. None of this is to belittle the huge achievements of David Cameron’s time in office. One gentleman asked me to summarise these and I was able to provide him with the following food for thought. Since 2010 the economy has turned around with the deficit as a share of GDP cut by two thirds. There are now 2.5 million more people in work with the security of a pay packet. We have 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools. We have introduced the National Living Wage and taken 4 million of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether.  We have supported the creation of over 2.9 million new apprenticeships. The welfare system has been reformed with reasonable caps, more help for those looking for work and penalties for those who refuse to work. Crime has been cut by more than a quarter. We’ve built 700,000 new homes. State pensions have been protected via the ‘triple lock’ guaranteeing that they rise by inflation, earnings or 2.5% whichever is the greatest. Corporation tax has been reduced so that the UK now has amongst the lowest rates in the world – driving inward investment and even more jobs. We have supported the NHS with the largest investment in our health service since 1948. Since 2010 we have also seen more road investment than at any time since the 1970s. Aid spending levels are at 0.7% of GDP so that we do our bit for those in the poorest parts of the world and help provide stability in countries that need support. And we are now keeping our NATO defence spending commitment of 2% of GDP per year – seeing new aircraft carriers and state of the art equipment for our armed forces.  Much has been done although, as is always the case, much still remains to be tackled.