WHEN we came to office in 2010 our task was clear: to rescue Britain from the brink. Five years on, you can see the evidence of the economic transformation across Yorkshire. 122,000 more people are in work. 270,000 have started apprenticeships. Around 22,000 new businesses have opened for trade. Yorkshire and the Humber, like Britain, is going in the right direction.
But we’re not there yet. There’s still half of the deficit left to pay down. We’ve still got to secure the recovery and make sure it’s felt by everyone. But we’ve built the strong foundations we need, and here I want to tell readers of The Yorkshire Post what we intend to build upon them.
My vision is simple: One Nation. A country where hardworking people can get on and succeed; where people’s background is no barrier to them achieving their dreams; where every part of our country has a stake in our economic success. And those are the three big things the programme of legislation we set out in the Queen’s Speech will be all about.
The first job of a One Nation Government is to get even more people into work. In the last Parliament, Britain created two million jobs – more than the rest of the countries in the EU put together. Our aim is to create two million more, so we make this a country where there should be a job for everyone – in other words, full employment.
We’ll give people the skills they need, training three million more apprentices – a projected 360,000 in this region. We’ll let them keep more of the money they earn – putting the tax-free minimum wage into law and cutting the income taxes of around 2.2 million people in this region, saving the typical taxpayer around £825.
We’ll help parents by extending free childcare to 30 hours a week for three and four-year-olds. And we’ll help first-time buyers by building more homes and extending the Right to Buy to the 154,000 housing association tenants across Yorkshire and the Humber. That’s what One Nation is all about: a place where every working person can get on.
The second purpose of our legislation is to ensure there is social justice for all. That starts with school. We want to make sure this is a country where a great education is available to every child. So we’ll build more free schools, like Dixons McMillan Academy in Bradford and XP School in Doncaster.
We won’t just turn failing schools into academies; we’ll take over coasting ones too. We’ll bring the benefits cap down further, so we ensure someone is always better off in work than on welfare. And we’ll protect the most precious institution of all, our NHS, increasing funding by at least £8bn a year by 2020, and making it a truly seven-day service.
Our third aim is to ensure the recovery reaches every part of our country. In past recoveries, we’ve seen regions in our country left behind as London roared ahead. No more. We will make sure everyone has the infrastructure they need to succeed. That was a big part of our plan for working people in Yorkshire that I launched during the election campaign. It means big, much-anticipated works going ahead – from expanding the M62 to upgrading the A1; from investing in High Speed Rail to building a Northern “rail hub” and scrapping the old Pacer trains. That’s what Yorkshire needs if it is to grow and create jobs.
These are the three big tasks as we return to office – and One Nation is the goal. The programme of legislation we are launching this week is the first step in getting there. And as a Government for working people, we’re getting straight on with the job.
David Cameron is the Prime Minister.