One hundred days ago I stood on the steps of Downing Street and told the British people that the first Conservative majority government for 18 years would govern on behalf of everyone. One nation, one United Kingdom.
Our central task is to finish the job we started in turning around our economy. Through our long term economic plan we are getting the fundamentals right, generating growth, creating jobs, clearing the deficit and offering the British people the security they need to get on in their lives.
I am determined that we will build on this foundation. By cutting taxes, reforming welfare and increasing minimum wages we are showing we are the real party of working people.
On the challenge of tackling poverty, we’re attacking the causes of poverty, not just the symptoms, by tackling generational unemployment, strengthening families and ensuring that work always pays.
On the challenge of delivering security in a dangerous world, we will confront the extremist threat in all its forms and build a stronger, prouder sense of British identity.
We also want to restore Britain’s place in the world which is why we will meet our international commitments on defence spending and international aid. This is not some naïve neo-conservative internationalism but a hard-headed realism that recognises our national prosperity and security are inextricably linked to how we work with our international partners to meet the threats of terrorism, poverty and climate change. Our success also depends on being an outward-facing trading nation and that is why I will also continue to lead trade delegations oversees to win new business for Britain and, with that, more jobs and growth for the whole country.
Taken together all these beliefs add up to a genuine one nation vision for our country.
We are delivering strong, centre-ground, pragmatic and progressive government exemplified by our new National Living Wage and our commitment to a real terms increase of at least £8 billion a year by 2020 to support the NHS’s own Five Year Plan. We are moving from a low wage, high tax, high welfare society to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society. By 2020, the new National Living Wage will represent a pay rise of around £100 a week for the lowest paid. While our continued commitment to cutting taxes means we have already raised again the amount you can earn before paying any tax at all. And the legislation we are bringing forward will mean no increases in income tax, VAT or national insurance in the lifetime of this Parliament.
We are also deadly serious about providing security at every stage of working people’s lives. Training is essential in building an economy where working people benefit from growth, and apprenticeships are a proven route to a great career. So we have begun the task of creating 3 million more apprenticeships. We are supporting working parents with the challenges of childcare, so they can take on that extra shift or go back to work after a break. So the Queen’s Speech honoured our promise to double free childcare to 30 hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds.
We are also seeing through vital reforms in our public services, including the creation of a truly 7-day NHS.
We want everyone to have a chance to succeed and education is the best way of ensuring that. This means schools with strong standards and discipline, offering our children a firm foundation for future success. It also means giving great headteachers the freedom to run their own schools with the ability to set their own curriculum and pay their staff properly. Academy schools were created to do exactly that.
I profoundly believe this is the right direction for our country because I want teachers not bureaucrats deciding how best to educate our children. We have already seen how academy freedoms have been fundamental in turning around failing schools – like Manchester Enterprise Academy, where results have almost doubled during its time as an academy. That is why in the first 100 days we have brought forward legislation to transform all failing schools into academies and for the first time taken the power to convert coasting schools into academies too. But we have also seen how these freedoms can help all schools, with more than 3,000 good and outstanding schools already making the decision to become academies themselves.
I want every school in the country to have the opportunity to become an academy and to benefit from the freedoms this brings. So we will make it a priority to recruit more academy sponsors and support more great headteachers in coming together in academy chains. In doing so, we can extend educational excellence and opportunity to every school and every child in our country.
100 days in, our government has the ideas to build the one nation vision – and to deliver real social mobility in our country. We will not waste a second in getting on with the job, supporting working people and delivering the prosperity and security on which our future depends.