The coronavirus outbreak has, of course, been an extremely challenging time. It is right that the UK response to this unprecedented crisis has taken up a significant amount of Government time and energy.
I am clear in my mind that since taking office, the Prime Minister and his ministerial team have been focusing on delivering key priorities, alongside managing the UK’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, including the highly successful vaccine programme.
I have been encouraged that the response to the pandemic has not come at the expense of the Government’s broader vision for the UK. The Queen's Speech outlined the Government's priorities which are to support the nation's recovery from the impact of coronavirus, to back the NHS, and to level up and spread opportunity. Ministers are focusing on on supporting jobs, businesses and the economy, while delivering the Government's commitments to create safer streets and neighbourhoods and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, for a cleaner, greener UK.
It is an ambitious programme and I am also encouraged by what has been achieved so far. Some key achievements include: leaving the EU on 31 January 2020, fulfilling the promise made to the British people; delivering the biggest cash boost in history for the NHS and enshrining that increase in law, to safeguard it for future generations as well as tackling the social care crisis that successive governments have avoided; and giving the police the resources they need to recruit 20,000 additional police officers, helping to build back safer after the pandemic.
All this work comes on top of delivering one of the most comprehensive economic responses in the world to support jobs, businesses and public services during the coronavirus pandemic, and setting out a Ten Point Plan to unleash a green industrial revolution, creating 250,000 green jobs to deliver its net zero ambitions.
Because of the Government's Plan For Jobs, we are recovering faster than our major competitors, more people are in work, and growth is up. I was encouraged that the Chancellor's recent Budget provided a significant tax cut for low income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, by raising the National Living Wage to £9.50, and freezing fuel duty for the twelfth year in a row.
It is my job as your representative to hold the Government to account in delivering its priorities and I will continue to do so to ensure the best possible outcome for the people of Dudley North.