The past twelve months have been an incredible journey for the UK. The year began in the final months of the Coalition Government with the General Election looming and ended with a majority Conservative Government. In May the constituents of South Derbyshire re-elected me with an increased majority, and I want to thank them for entrusting me with the honour of continuing to represent them in Westminster.
The Conservative Party Election Manifesto set out our pledges and, over the last seven months, we have been working hard to deliver them.
We began with the first fully Conservative Budget since November 1996 which introduced our road to the living wage, increased the money you can earn before paying any tax and increased the amount you can leave to your children before inheritance tax has to be paid.
Since the Budget we have ensured a good start in life for our children by improving our commitment to Schools and increasing schools funding to over £40 billion. Furthermore lifting the cap on the number of University places and the continuing growth in apprenticeships across the UK gives ever increasing opportunities for all our youngsters.
There are now more people with the security of a job than ever before, with over 95,000 people living here, just 313 people are unemployed including youth unemployment at 55. These figures are fantastic news and in my opinion are the best story of the year as it shows here in South Derbyshire we are leading the way in promoting work and a fairer society.
The Government are committed to helping families with children with our promise of 30 hours free childcare for the parents of 3 and 4 years olds each week being rolled out from 2016 rather than 2017 as previously pledged.
For a stronger NHS and dignity in later life we have committed to increase the NHS budget by 19 billion in real cash terms over the course of this Parliament and our commitment to pensioners continues with the weekly State Pension increasing to £119.30 – the biggest real-terms rise in 15 years.
As well as the delivery of Conservative Party manifesto commitments we have also delivered on a personal pledge of mine. English Votes For English Laws has been my pledge since 2001, and I am delighted we have now ended the unfair system where an MP from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland can vote on English only matters but English MPs cannot vote on matters which only affect them.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, but even more I hope you and your family have a happy and prosperous New Year and be assured I will continue to work hard for you in 2016.
This article was originally written for The Burton Mail.