I can hardly believe it is a year since I was re-elected as your MP and what a year. Back then we could not imagine how much would change, how our lives would be put on hold and how events would unfold.
Despite having to deal with the pandemic I have been supporting the Government to deliver on the promises made at the General Election and the biggest of those was to deliver Brexit. South Derbyshire voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU back in 2016 and on the 31st of January this year we left the EU and on 31st of December the final ties with the EU will be cut and we will once again be a free and independent Sovereign country.
We will have taken back control of UK borders and ended the freedom of movement of people replacing it with a new fairer Australian style points-based system. This will ensure our businesses are able to recruit the skilled people they need from anywhere in the world which in turn will help our economy to grow.
Trade negotiations are ongoing and I am still hopeful we will secure a Free Trade Deal with our European neighbours and allies. In addition to this, we have already secured numerous trade deals across the globe with countries like Canada, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea Vietnam and many more, in fact 49 more. We are also currently negotiating with other countries and hope to achieve a deal shortly. Britain is open for business and I welcome the opportunities Brexit presents and securing new trade deals is one of them.
One of the other promises we made was to cut crime and increase the number of officers on our streets. We promised to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers over the period of this parliament and so far, we are on target to do so. The initial aim was an additional 6,000 officers by March 2021 and to date an extra 4,336 officers have been recruited.
We promised to deliver an additional 50,000 nurses and in just a year there are now 14,800 more as well as over 6,250 more Doctors. Additionally, we said we would build 40 new hospitals and upgrade a further 20. In Derbyshire, last week over £1 million was awarded to the Derbyshire Community Health Service Foundation and Derbyshire Community Health Service Foundation for 12 projects which includes refurbishing, electrics and other projects.
School funding will also increase to a minimum £5,000 per secondary school pupil. This will improve education and opportunities for young people across South Derbyshire despite the coronavirus. In response to the virus we have increased support for families and children including providing vouchers for meals and even doing this through school holidays.
One of the government’s biggest tasks is to level up the country, getting rid of the North/South divide once and for all. To do that the Government have announced record investments which are triple the average over the last 40 years which will improve roads, railways and improve connectivity. I strongly support this investment as it will help businesses grow and create jobs across the UK including in South Derbyshire.
The coronavirus has had a massive impact on all our lives but we have worked hard to protect businesses, families and some of the most vulnerable people in society. We stepped up to the challenge, providing loans, grants and tax relief to support businesses, providing billions of pounds worth of support. The furlough scheme has also been pivotal in protecting jobs along with support for the self-employed. COVID-19 presented us with unprecedented challenges but we have been and will continue to be flexible to save lives and protect businesses and jobs.
It has been a tough year but as your MP I will do all I can to support everyone across South Derbyshire and act in your best interest. With the vaccine now being distributed and Rapid Testing available here I hope we can all look forward to a better year where we can continue to deliver on more of the promises made so South Derbyshire can thrive.