Spending some precious time with my family and friends this summer is very welcome and makes me realise that no matter who we are and what we do, we all face similar uncertainties, fears and hope for the future. Coronavirus has affected, even changed, many people’s lives from those who have suffered by losing loved ones to those who have volunteered during this crisis in a constructive and compassionate way to help family, neighbours, friends and people they have never met before.
We have witnessed the bravery and relentless hard work of our NHS. We have celebrated the incredible volunteer groups in our local communities, such as HEART in Hastings and Rye Mutual Aid, along with the hard work of faith groups, food banks, and our local authorities to name but a few. We have thanked profusely our teachers, police, social care teams, shop and supermarket workers, transport workers and everyone who has carried on with their jobs in order to keep this country going and keep us all safe.
In Hastings and Rye, we have witnessed people making decisions and taking responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities. We have faced our fears together, with hope. Vaccines have given us hope for a way out of this virus – and we know that pandemics do not last forever. At the time of writing, data shows that coronavirus rates are continuing to fall day by day. This is positive news and there are increasing signs that we have passed the third peak.
The reduction in transmission is likely to have been caused by more people having the required two jabs. It is really important that everyone gets a vaccine – both doses - not only to help reduce the spread of the virus and serious illness, but also to ensure that we can get the country, Hastings and Rye and our local businesses bouncing back economically. Younger people need to know that they are an integral part of the social and economic health of the nation, and part of our hope for the future.
We will continue to deal with challenges thrown our way because, despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, this Government is delivering on its promises – getting Brexit done, putting more police officers on our streets, boosting funding for primary and secondary schools, and recruiting the staff and building and investing in the hospitals that our NHS needs. We have the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, increase in National Living Wage, the highest number of new homes built in over 20 years, £3.6 billion invested in 101 towns through our Towns Fund – including Hastings - boosting local economies and creating jobs, a 10 Point Plan to unleash a green industrial revolution creating jobs as we build back greener, a commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 as we work towards being Net Zero by 2050, and signing almost 70 trade deals worth almost £900 billion into law signalling to the world we are once again a sovereign free trading nation – and much more.
There is hope and optimism; it is worth looking back to 2010, when the country was struggling after the deepest recession since the 1930s. The outlook was not particularly bright, but we got a grip as a nation and the number of jobs created in the next few years flew in the face of the predictions made by a number of respected economists. Over the last decade, we have benefited from an impressive reduction in unemployment, a substantial increase in employment with the majority of people going to work in full-time jobs. When the rest of Europe was struggling with youth employment, the UK gained from substantial reductions in youth and long-term unemployment, a massive drop in the number of workless households and a notable increase in the numbers of women in work. Between 2010 – 2015 the UK created more jobs than the whole of the European Union. As a Conservative, I believe in the dignity of work both as a way through which people can improve their lives and the circumstances of their families, and a means to strengthen society.
Fiscal responsibility is essential for good government and the steady reduction in the deficit is one of the most important achievements of the last decade.
We have built our way back before and we can do it again. As we build back better, we will continue to deliver on the promises we made to the British people, levelling up opportunity across every part of our great United Kingdom. This Government envisions a better future for us all and it is encouraging us all to take the steps needed to make that future happen – for all of us.