Elizabeth Truss – 2016 Speech at the National Farmers’ Union Conference

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Birmingham on 23 February 2016.

Farmers here in Britain have faced a tough year.

We’ve seen:

– World demand hit by slowing Chinese growth and the continuing Russian import ban.

– The highest wheat yields on British farms for 25 years and milk production at a 20-year high – but sharply falling prices.

– Pork prices at their lowest for eight years; lamb, poultry and sugar all down a long way.

– The strong pound pulling in imports and magnifying those global trends.

– Farmers’ incomes have been squeezed; they are expected to be down by half in dairy.

And in the north of England, farmers are still coping with the consequences of the serious flooding.

In the face of these challenges, we could just take cover and hope things get better soon.

But I know that is not the attitude of British farming. Despite the fact prices are low, every week I meet people full of new ideas for taking forward this great industry – and ideas for managing the volatile world we face.

I share their confidence in a positive future for British farming – and with very good reasons.

– New talent, innovation and science are energising farming.

– New opportunities are emerging as international markets open up and consumers change their tastes.

– We are reducing the burden of regulation.

– We are investing more in building our resilience against the threats of flood and disease.

Action in all these areas and confidence in the future are at the heart of the 25-year plan for food and farming we will be publishing shortly. It will detail how we will attract even more skilled people to the industry, build the British brand and increase exports. And it will give farmers the tools to improve productivity and competitiveness so the future is sustainable, profitable and world-leading.

I would like to thank the NFU and everyone in the industry who is supporting and contributing to this long-term vision for success.

Science and innovation

We know Britain already has some of the world’s most innovative farmers and scientists. Their breakthroughs are what will make this industry a world leader – and we want to turbocharge their ideas.

That is why over the next five years, we are doubling Defra’s capital investment in science to £130million.

And we are investing another £80million across government to develop research centres for livestock, crop health, data and precision engineering. The Agrimetrics data centre, which we launched in October, is working on projects like predicting and monitoring cereal crops and pest risks.

The Food Innovation Network, announced by the Prime Minister last summer, will bridge the divide that too often exists between businesses and researchers so the latest innovations lead directly to improvements on farms and production lines.


There is a new generation excited about farming. It is the fastest-growing subject at university, with a 4.6% increase in student numbers last year. There are now more than 19,000 people studying agriculture and related subjects.

Farming can be proud of what it is doing to attract these ambitious people – what a massive vote of confidence in the future.

I met students at Cirencester earlier this month. They told me about the opportunities they see in farming – like new technology, increasing sustainability and adding value through the food chain.

Growth at the Royal Agricultural University is being driven in large part by a 44% increase in female students. Nationally, we are seeing more and more women come into the industry. By opening itself to the widest pool of people, this great industry is harnessing all the available talent.

Developing the skills the industry needs is central to our 25-year plan. One of our manifesto commitments is to treble the number of apprenticeships by 2020. The Food and Drink Federation have already committed to this target. I hope the farming industry will follow suit.

Currently, there are 1,000 apprentices in farming and 2,100 in horticulture. The government’s new levy which comes into force in April 2017 will bring the biggest funding for apprenticeships ever seen and I strongly encourage people in the audience today to make sure their businesses benefit.

New opportunities

We will need the experience and the expertise of today’s and tomorrow’s farmers to take advantage of the new opportunities.

The market-access deals I signed in China in 2015 will bring our farmers around £40million a year of potential sales for barley and pig’s trotters.

And after a painful 20 years following the disaster of BSE, we are putting British beef back where it belongs, at the top of menus around the world.

Last October, Canada announced it was lifting its ban. And we are making good progress with the US and Japan, which together would bring an estimated £40million a year in beef exports.

In January, we launched the Great British Food Unit, bringing together expertise from Defra and UKTI in a single location to give advice and practical help to exporters.

Our Great British Food campaign is championing the industry in Britain and across the world. Farmers are at the forefront of this campaign – people like Robert Craig, dairy farmer of the year in 2014 and Patrick Harte of Cornerways Tomatoes.

The AHDB is now able to celebrate the British provenance of our food in its campaigns and will be running promotions for home-produced meat over the coming months, supporting the 2016 Year of Great British Food.

Government is now buying more British food as a result of the Bonfield reforms. The Ministry of Justice’s new £500million contract for prison meals will use the balanced scorecard, creating a level playing field for British producers.

And from this April all 30 million cartons of UHT milk served annually to prisoners will be British rather than from overseas for the first time in years, thanks to the supplier, Bidvest, using the balanced scorecard.

Across the public sector – places like schools, hospitals, military canteens and government departments – we will be able to buy around an extra £400million of British food every year that we used to source overseas.

Changing tastes

The opportunities ahead are about changing tastes as well as new markets.

The Family Food survey, which we released last week, shows how what we eat has moved on since the 1970s.

As a great fan of British butter, I’m very happy at the revival in its fortunes which the survey shows – we now eat far more butter than all the low-fat spreads and margarine put together. Fruit juice, fresh fruit and veg as well as breakfast cereal have all surged – as has yoghurt, up more than five-fold since the 1970s.

Businesses like Yeo Valley in Somerset are responding to these changing tastes. It now produces 2 million yoghurts a week, adding value for its own farms and for 90 others in the south west.

Thanks largely to the efforts of the NFU, closely supported by George Eustice, more supermarkets are buying British – like Tesco, who will be sourcing all the milk for their own-label yoghurt from British herds. And Marks and Spencer’s will be sourcing all of its cheddar from Britain.

Our go ahead businesses also include vegetable growers like Hammond Produce, who set up a Garden of Innovation in Nottinghamshire jointly with Bakkavor to provide a showcase for their novel produce to go into ready meals.

Investment and managing volatility

The British flair for innovation helped the food industry attract more foreign investment in 2014 than the rest of manufacturing put together.

We have also seen strong investment in farming. Thanks to high-quality management, this is starting to show through in rising productivity.

And although we cannot control market volatility, we can give farmers improved tools to manage it.

Last year, the NFU had two major budget asks – certainty around the annual investment allowance and improved tax averaging.

Because this government backs British farming, we have delivered those reforms. From April this year, farmers can average profits over five years instead of two. Also from this year, we are introducing a permanent annual investment allowance of £200,000.

There are other actions that could help smooth out volatility. We are drawing up practical options for creating new derivatives markets. That means cooperating closely with the AHDB’s volatility forum, with farming, processors and the finance sector.

Reducing the burden of regulation

We are fundamentally re-engineering the way we work with farmers to reduce the burden of regulation.

As we re-shape Defra and its organisations, the Environment Agency and Natural England will be working to the same boundaries so it will be much clearer for farmers who they need to talk to.

By the end of this parliament, we will have saved businesses £470million of unnecessary costs.

We have already got rid of lots of unnecessary blockages in the planning system and we will go further with the Rural Planning Review we launched earlier this month. It is looking at how we can streamline the development process in areas like farm shops, polytunnels and farm reservoirs.

Our new Single Farm Inspection Taskforce will start work in June. By better use of data and technology like satellite imagery and by coordinating visits, we will reduce the number of inspections by at least 20,000 a year in this parliament. Added to the 34,000 cut since 2010, that will mean we have reduced the number of visits by over 50,000 a year.

The single farm helpline, which we set up in September, is saving farmers hassle. Over 60% of queries are now dealt with by the first person the caller talks to– they do not get shoved from team to team.


As I have said previously, the current CAP is the most complicated ever. I want to see simplification in ecological focus areas, cross-compliance and inspections and far better use of technology.

And I want the three-crop rule abolished. I have heard from farmers in Hampshire and Northamptonshire how it is adding 10% to their costs – all for a scheme that does virtually nothing for the environment.

I want to see more decisions made at national and local level in areas like pesticides and environmental stewardship.

I believe that by voting to remain we can work within a reformed EU to reduce bureaucracy and secure further reform while still enjoying the significant benefits of the single market which gives us access to 500 million consumers. We are able to export our high quality products freely without the trade barriers we deal with elsewhere and with a say in the rules.

Food and farming is our largest manufacturing industry employing 3.8 million people. Sixty percent of our food and farming exports are to the European Union, bringing in £11billion.

At a time of severe price volatility and global market uncertainty – I believe it would be wrong to take a leap into the dark. The years of complication and risk caused by negotiating withdrawal would be a distraction from our efforts to build a world-leading food and farming industry that brings jobs and growth to Britain.

The new settlement the Prime Minister has secured gives us the best of both worlds and I am proud to be part of the Government that it is delivering on its commitment to have an in out referendum.

I believe we would be stronger, safer and better off in a reformed Europe but ultimately it will be for the British people to decide.

Rural Payments

The complexity of the CAP has unfortunately caused real problems in the basic payment scheme. The Commission were still making changes in February 2015, which was far too late.

When farmers are already facing price pressures, I fully understand the concerns of those who have not yet received payments.

It is vital we do the calculations properly or we could face huge fines from the EU. Disallowance is already running at £70million a year, money we should be investing to improve the growth prospects of British food and farming.

I have been regularly monitoring progress with Mark Grimshaw and making sure he gets all the support he needs.

Under his leadership, the RPA has been working seven days a week with between 800 and 1,000 staff processing applications. They have entered and checked more than 80,000 claim forms.

As a result of their efforts, by last weekend we had paid over £1billion to nearly 71,000 farmers, four fifths of those eligible.

We are on course to make almost all payments by the end of March.

For farmers who have not been paid, we will continue to work with the banks so they are able to access finance.

We also have a hardship fund, which has advanced BPS payments to 268 farmers, worth an average of £16,400.

I know there have been issues in areas like allocating land across commons and in cross-border claims, which will be speeded up when new systems for exchanging data with Scotland and Wales go live in April.

Now that we have entered all the data on our system, the 2016 application round will be much simpler, particularly for people who do not need to make any changes. Farmers will be able to apply online this year, and that will include land and entitlement transfers. And of course, for those who need it, we’re retaining a paper option.

The window opens in early March and farmers will have until May 16th to finalise claims.

We have been making separate payments to those facing exceptional difficulties, including £26.2million in one-off support for the dairy sector.

The Farming Recovery Fund to help flood-hit businesses get up and running again is processing more than 80% of applications in less than 10 working days. So far, it has approved nearly £1million of claims at an average of £9,100 per farmer.


While we are getting payments out as quickly as possible and helping those facing immediate challenges, we will not lose sight of the need to continue building confidence in the future.

The 12% increase we secured in Defra’s capital budget means we can invest more in flood defences and resilience against animal and plant disease.

We are strengthening protection for a further 420,000 acres of farmland by 2021. On top of the 580,000 acres we protected in the last parliament, this will mean 1 million acres better defended in a decade.

We are upgrading laboratories and other facilities at Weybridge to fight animal disease – something too many people in this hall have had to confront, whether it is avian flu or, 15 years ago this week, foot and mouth.

Bovine TB is the biggest threat we face and I am 100% committed to defeating it. Our comprehensive 25-year strategy is making real progress – in fact, we’re on course to declare half of England TB-free by 2019.

That success is in large part due to the efforts of farmers who have gone out night after night, often in the face of blatant intimidation, to make the badger cull a success. Thanks to them, all three culls – in Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset – met their targets in 2015. It is these farmers who are giving hope to a whole industry.

But this is no time to ease off. I want to see culling expanded across a wider number of areas this year. The Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice is that this is the only way to secure the full benefits of our comprehensive strategy.

And we will fund an expanded TB advisory service that farmers have been calling for so it is available throughout the high-risk and edge areas.

Whatever our opponents may say, we know we are doing the right thing. We are pursuing a strategy that has worked in Australia and is working in Ireland and New Zealand.

We will not rest until we have eradicated this devastating disease.


Bovine TB is one of the many challenges this industry faces. And I recognise these are not easy times. That is why this next year is such a vital period. We will need to work closely together to make sure farming has the confident and profitable future it deserves.

British food and farming is a fantastic brand, recognised and admired around the world. The opportunities it offers talented people have never been greater.

It is central to this country’s future – to our economy, to our environment, to a thriving countryside – to making sure Britain remains a fantastic place to live.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Truss – 2016 Speech on Reforming DEFRA

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, at The Institute for Government, Carlton Gardens, London on 1 February 2016.

Thank you very much. It is hard to believe that the Institute for Government (IfG) has been around for just eight years.

In that time, there is scarcely a corner of Whitehall it hasn’t shone a light into. It is a rare combination of a think tank, a classroom and a critical friend.

And I don’t think I would be standing here if I agreed with the blogger Guido Fawkes, who described the Institute as the “most serious threat to freedom in Britain since the Communist Party”.

It’s an exciting time for us to be talking about reform in government.

Why this matters

I’m someone who has always cared about this issue but I think that more of us should care. It matters far beyond the world of Whitehall-watching, because it is critical to our mission to build Britain’s economy and society in this turnaround decade.

I believe that the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ are inevitably linked to the ‘how’. If we want Britain to lead the world, our governance needs to lead the world too. It needs to enable talent and enterprise, to do less – and where it acts to be more productive and more open to ideas.

Global changes

As the introduction said, I worked at Shell and Cable & Wireless in the 1990s and 2000s and I saw the changes that technology bought, from the carefully drafted memo right through to the slapdash blackberry message. The arrival of the internet did not just mean automating what we already did. It meant companies making huge efficiency savings and the whole culture of organisations changing. Layers of management were stripped out and we had to be more nimble and responsive.

We face ever-fiercer global competition and shifting patterns of climate, trade and economic power. To meet these challenges, our productivity must match and exceed the level of the best-performing nations.

The government’s supply side reforms to taxes, welfare and education are all vital to closing the gap.

We are also getting out of the way and allowing enterprise to thrive – since 2010, five private sector jobs have been created for every job lost in the public sector.

And we must improve our own productivity and make sure that our actions drive competitiveness. This means breaking up monopolies, opening up competition for the supply of public goods and minimising the burdens of regulation.

Changing government

Making government work better is something we’ve been grappling with for generations. The Northcote-Trevelyan reforms of 1850s were about meritocracy and efficiency in Whitehall.

Government departments coordinated by the Cabinet Office were the product of the First World War and David Lloyd George, with the Hankey and Haldane reforms which he started.

The post-war growth of government led to massive delivery departments. The Fulton Committee in 1968 called for much greater separation of services and policy – the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ – and for openness to outside experts.

This led to the creation of Next Steps agencies starting in the 1980s. We saw real improvements as a result of this, but the creation of so many arm’s-length organisations also brought duplication, friction and extra costs.

Since 2010, we have been reshaping this landscape by sharing more expertise across government – like the Government Digital Service. In the case of Defra, we have seen the number of organisations reduced from more than 90 in 2010 to today’s 34.

I want Defra to be leading the way in the next phase of change and I believe the four key principles are about government being more integrated, more open, more modern and more local.


The technology revolution means that people today expect responsiveness and seamlessness, they want services shaped around their needs not around organisational convenience. The days of traditional government departments saying “take it or leave it” are over.

Defra touches the lives of every individual and every business in the country. And our starting point has to be the people who deal with us and the landscapes we are trying to enhance, not our organogram.

We will structure our work around river catchments and landscapes that make up the environment. For the first time, we will have a plan and budget for each area rather than 34 organisations operating with different plans. We are going to be integrating these plans with the 25-year framework we are creating for the environment, which we are going to be launching this spring. When community groups, NGOs, farmers and businesses talk to us, they won’t be passed from pillar to post.

The important legal independence and regulatory role of Natural England and the Environment Agency will be maintained whilst more flexible operations will mean the same spending delivering results several times over. We will share the same IT, HR and communications, releasing resources for the front line.

A new Environment Analysis Unit will pull together data, stats and economics from across our organisation meaning that flood alleviation, flora and fauna, farming, water soil and air will be considered together; not as isolated issues.

The idea of integration goes beyond the Defra border. The same principle applies across government and into the business and voluntary world. We are turbocharging our food exports and inward investment by establishing the Great British Food Unit – where companies from Halen Mon Sea Salt to Weetabix have a platform for their products.

By bringing together UKTI, Defra and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, which is funded by farmers – we have created a UK and international network with 40 staff in London, 5 in China and other locations around Britain and the world.


Free and open debate is one of our great advantages as a nation.

I’m not sure that government and policy wonks ever had a monopoly on good ideas – but we certainly don’t now and modern technology makes it easier than ever for us to access the most creative minds.

Matt Hancock is leading the changes to the civil service, like requiring all senior appointments to be advertised outside Whitehall.

This draws on previous experience as Lord Wilson, the former Cabinet Secretary, has said: “Nearly 30 per cent of Permanent Secretaries appointed between 1900 and 1919 had begun life in another profession. Their average age was under 40. It was not unknown for former MPs and Junior Ministers to become Permanent Secretaries.” Now there’s a threat!

The Extended Ministerial Office (EMO) is a much discussed idea, some might think it’s a goth punk movement, but it isn’t as I’m sure everyone in this room knows, it’s an innovation introduced by Francis Maude. I’m a huge fan of the EMO, because I think it complements the superb expertise we already have in Defra and helps us do more and reach more people.

We have Ellen Broad from the Open Data Institute driving forward reform with our Head of Data Alex Coley.

We’ve got Fiona Gately, who has worked for Duchy Originals and school food campaigns in Britain and America. She is promoting British food and drink with our Food Director, Sarah Church.

We’ve got the economist Adam Memon and government reform specialist Kanishka Narayan bringing new ideas to the department. And we’ve got other outside experts including Ian Hall, a financial services specialist.

I am pushing Defra to welcome good ideas wherever they come from, creating a flourishing greenhouse of creativity. This means consulting as widely as possible and “showing our workings” in public. For the environment framework for example, we are going to be launching the framework in spring, with the final results through at the end of this year, and we are using a platform called Dialogue to enable contributors to have their say.

Open to people

I think we have a huge resource to tap. The British people have an unparalleled love and pride for nature and landscapes. Millions join groups like the RSPB and the National Trust – and farmers and volunteers are working to improve the countryside, like the ones I met last month who have brought the harvest mouse back to Selborne in Hampshire.

But there are too many people in our country who are not aware of these natural wonders, how food is produced or benefiting from the experience of climbing Catbells in the Lake District or visiting the National Arboretum in Gloucestershire.

As well as opening our policy making for new ideas – I want to open our environment to new people.

This means National Parks, Kew, the Forestry Commission attracting more visitors, especially children from all backgrounds and parts of the country. It means making training, volunteering and apprenticeships in countryside management, farming and the environment more widely available.

These are huge public assets and we should ensure they are benefiting the public as a whole as widely as possible.


I’m pleased to say that Defra is at the forefront of the open data revolution. By June, we will be on target to release 8,000 datasets as I promised last summer.

I think it’s an immense achievement of our department that one third of all of the government’s open data will be Defra’s – we don’t have one third of the government budget, but we’ve got one third of all the data out there.

This is a major resource that entrepreneurs already use to design new tools, from websites for people to check their local river levels to software for the latest precision farming techniques.

Our data is driving exciting advances in mapping. Architects are using our Lidar data, a 3D map of the country built up with airborne laser readings, to build a model of London as they plan the next skyscraper. Game developers are using it to build new landscapes for Minecraft and archaeologists are discovering lost networks of Roman roads from Lancashire to Dorset.

As a department, we are increasing our capital investment by 12 percent over the course of this parliament. This means that as well as increasing our spending on flood defences, we can raise our investment in IT, science and facilities by 30%. This new technology will help us to assess risk more precisely and to automate more monitoring and inspection, enabling us to reduce our running costs by 15 percent.

That means we can do things like introduce a single helpline for farmers and streamline the way people apply for environmental permits and track animal movements. Our Single Farm Inspection Taskforce, which we promised in our manifesto, will cut tens of thousands of official visits – without sacrificing standards. This all reduces the time and money people will have to spend dealing with us so that by 2020 we will have swept away £470m worth of unnecessary costs for businesses.


The world is more educated than it has ever been before. People have better information for making decisions at the touch of a screen. Government should move from making decisions on people’s behalf to ensuring they have the information, tools and structures to act.

At the most basic level this means individuals being given greater information, tools and capability to contribute to their local environment, for example, providing habitats for bees in their gardens. It also means communities having the wherewithal to make local decisions. In the “Slow the Flow” project in Pickering, the community are using the landscape to provide flood protection and environmental benefits.

I think it’s important to note though that empowering individuals and communities requires Defra staff on the ground to be able to take genuine decisions and resolve issues rather than passing them up the line. During the flooding in the North of England – Environment Agency staff were communicating directly with communities online and through broadcast at a level never seen before. I want to see more people in our organisation having that ownership and fulfilment and to be able to get things done locally.

The tools being designed by the Environment Analysis Unit and the Natural Capital Committee, under the leadership of Dieter Helm will give a consistent framework for people to take decisions nationally and locally. For example, natural capital accounting will help calculate where woodland planting would provide the greatest benefits for plants and animals, recreation and reduced flood risk alongside the economic gains for forestry and farming. We’ll be starting three pathfinder projects later this year—one on the coast, one in an urban setting and one in a large rural landscape.

The governance reforms through the 25 year plan for the environment will also make it easier for us to bring in talents and finances from other organisations. People could use Environmental Impact Bonds, for example, to raise money to plant trees based on the value they provide in the future.


In the 1980s, government took on and broke up entrenched monopolies in public utilities and the City of London, releasing the pent-up energy of the economy.

Today, we are doing the same for how we are governed. We are harnessing new ideas and technology with an open approach to policy and decision-making. We are devolving power and responsibility to the both people inside and outside government who can bring the best solutions.

Just as our economy was turned around in the 1980s, in this turnaround decade we are creating a state that is more responsive to people and place and the realities of a more integrated and open world.

Together we can create the smarter, leaner state that will deliver the results for Britain.

Thank you.

Liz Truss – 2015 Speech at Norfolk’s Local Flavours Show

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, at the Norfolk Showground on 23 September 2015.

I know that this is the second year of Local Flavours and it is fantastic to be here and hopefully sample some of the finest flavours we have in the county. It is a unique event, bringing together 80 local producers and hundreds of local and national buyers.

Local food economies

I think what this festival reflects is the booming interest locally, nationally, and internationally in Britain’s wonderful regional, county and local food.

Local food is vital. It is one of the building blocks of what British Food is and what it means to us.

It’s impossible to imagine British food without Norfolk turkey, Stilton cheese or Melton Mowbray pork pies.

I think what we are seeing now is a revolution, powered from the bottom up which is making a difference in towns and villages across the country—from local food markets, seaside cafés and pubs.

And we can see this change happening. On the way here I stopped at the new Waffle and Pancake house on the A11 and on their menu they have local food from Norfolk and Suffolk. If I stopped at a café 10 years ago, you just would not have seen the pride in local food that we now have, that’s very exciting.

Resilience and value

In a world where we are seeing globalisation, with many farm and food producers struggling with the volatility of commodity prices, I think strong local brands and local identity are very important to ensure that producers continue to get value from their products and are able to sell in a global market.

You only have to look at events in dairy and cereals markets, or the effects of Russian sanctions to see what happens when commodity prices don’t go the right way. Strengthening food identities are one way that we can build resilience right across the food industry. I can see we have St Peter’s Brewers here, who now sell a lot of their beer abroad, but they are trading on their local identity to be able to do that. I think that these identities are the future of British food.

Of course there is action that we can take at UK and EU level. We are building a futures market in products like dairy that can help build resilience and the EU Commission have adopted that. We also intend to introduce tax averaging over five years to help farmers and producers plan for the future.

Building local food identity

Over the next 10 years we are going to see a real transformation in our food and drink culture, led by local food. People are rediscovering a lost connection with what they eat and drink, how it is made and where it comes from. People trust what they can see. They want to know more about the wonderful landscapes, our fantastic history and they want to see the technology and innovation of how their food is produced.

People rightly see food as central to their quality of life. They want the healthiest, most nutritious ingredients, sourced locally where possible.

People here and around the world associate British food with our traditions—like the pub lunch or the afternoon tea—and with uncompromising standards of quality, safety and animal welfare.

As a country we are number one in the world for animal welfare and I think that is something that we should be proud of. We can see distinctive identities now flourishing—Norfolk, Suffolk, Yorkshire, the South West, Scotland—and London, closely identified with the boom in gin.

Businesses working together

It is vital for building these identities that businesses join forces.

I am pleased the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival are today launching their “Produced in Norfolk” brand for small producers.

The Suffolk Food Hall near Ipswich, judged the best local food venue in Britain in the Countryside Alliance’s rural Oscars, is promoting Suffolk county’s identity as well.

And in the South West, more than 1,000 food and drink businesses have set up the Taste of the West cooperative to promote food and drink from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. By coming together, businesses go beyond promoting local identity –they increase their clout in the market place.

We have Anglia Farmers here today—the biggest agricultural purchasing organisation in Britain, combining the buying power of 3,500 businesses.

In the southwest, producers are selling through groups like the Somerset Larder, where county businesses bid jointly to supply the people building the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station and to supply the police and schools. So what we are seeing is consortia of businesses across the country coming together and using their local market power and strong local identities to build brands and to build successful businesses in the future. Public procurement

As the government, we are reforming the way that we buy food to support the local food revolution.

Last year, we launched the new balanced scorecard, which makes it easier for schools, hospitals and Whitehall departments to buy local produce.

And we are now making the buying process totally transparent so every time a public sector contract comes up, it is published and consortia of local businesses can bid.

Protecting local identities

Protected Food Names add a legally protected mark of quality to cherished local food and drink.

So far, there are 64 products in Britain with this status—including two from East Anglia, Fenland Celery and Newmarket Sausage. I want to treble that number to at least 200 so we catch up with France.

Consumers are willing to up to pay double the price for Protected Foods compared with what they pay for similar products without this status.

We have a Defra stand here today where you can find out more about the application process.

There is a race to become Norfolk’s first protected food name. I know that there are a lot who are interested—Cromer crab, Norfolk Black Turkey, Binham Blue cheese and I do want to see this part of the country, which has some of the finest flavours in the country, punching its weight in terms of protected food names. Not only do protected food names gain from the brand overall, but they also help promote the county and promote the Norfolk food brand which people will buy into.

And we are also setting up an initial 17 Food Enterprise Zones, three of them in East Anglia, to boost local food economies by bringing businesses together.

Better information and labelling

From the new YouGov polling, we know how highly people value local food—we need to help them with better information.

From this year, shops have to provide full details of national origin on meat labelling and I am pushing the European Commission to extend this to dairy and I am also working with supermarkets to see how we can get better dairy labelling.

I would also like to see shops and producers voluntarily giving far more information on local provenance. And we will be using our GREAT branding which has been so successful in international markets to celebrate local food in British shops.


As we can see here today, East Anglia is a hotbed of talent. And it is taking the lead in showing how to build on people’s pride in local food and drink.

– The Norfolk Peer potato

– The Blythburgh rare breed pork

– Mrs Temple’s Binham Blue cheese,

– The award-winning chocolate made by the Pump Street Bakery in Orford.

– Or the Brecks Sausage Roll, created by Maggie Cooper and Vanessa Scott from Strattons Hotel in Swaffham, crammed with locally produced pork, black pudding and vegetables.

Over the next 10 years, local food is going to be the powerhouse that drives the growth of our £100bn food and drink industry and the whole £200bn rural economy—not least tourism, where up to a third of spending in some regions goes on eating and drinking.

The people here today are right at the heart of turning this industry into a world-beater—so that when people around the world think of the countries that are home to the greatest food anywhere, Britain will be number one.

Thank you.

Liz Truss – 2016 Speech to Oxford Farming Conference

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to the Oxford Farming Conference on 6 January 2016.

Thank you. 2015 was a tough year in farming, ending with a very tough time indeed in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire. People had been getting ready to celebrate Christmas, but found themselves instead cleaning out their homes, clearing debris off fields and disposing of dead livestock.

Our immediate effort has been focused on the emergency and on restoring infrastructure and communications, and we have made available grants of up to £20,000 for farmers. In the longer term, we are working to build resilience and farmers have a key role to play.

Global challenges

The flooding we have had to confront is one of a whole set of interlinked challenges in the environment, food and farming that face Britain and the world. They are of strategic importance.

In this room today, we have many of the people with the bold and ambitious vision to tackle those challenges and seize the opportunities they bring.

There are going to be well over 9 billion people in the world by 2050, needing 50 per cent more food and water than today. We will have to meet this demand while reducing the impact on the environment, and while extreme weather becomes more frequent.

The shape of the global economy is in flux, bringing ever-more intense competition and price volatility – and new economic superpowers. Our relations with China are entering a golden era. Last year, I led our biggest-ever delegation of food businesses to what is now the world’s most valuable food market.

The growth in world trade and prosperity will bring huge opportunities to sell our high-value, superb quality food and drink as long as we are at our most productive and competitive.

The people who reap full advantage will be the ones with the skills, the innovation, the investment—and the ambition.

Re-making Defra

Defra is reshaping itself to step up to this new level of challenge and opportunity, helping Britain be a global leader in farming.

We have secured £2.7 billion to invest in capital – 12 per cent more than in the previous five years. That includes a doubling of investment in our world-class capabilities in science and animal and plant health. We will invest in technology, digital systems, growing our exports, world-leading science, protection against animal health and plant disease – and of course flood defences. This will enable us to modernise Defra and turn it into a trailblazer for government.

In the past, Defra and its agencies have been accused of operating in silos. One bit of the network would be looking at flood protection, another at farming, another the environment, without linking up all the challenges. And we have been criticised for taking too much decision-making out of local hands. We have duplicated functions like human resources and IT, meaning we have not always provided best value for money. While it is right that we manage major national risks, we should not seek to micro-manage everything.

This is changing. Defra and its organisations like the Environment Agency, APHA, the RPA and Natural England will in the future be more integrated, operating towards clear shared goals. And from July, the Environment Agency and Natural England will be using the same boundaries and the same plan. There will be one back office so we can put more resources into the front line, helping us save 15 per cent from our running costs, improving the value we provide to the taxpayer.

Under the leadership of James Bevan and James Cross, these organisations will be more pragmatic, responsive to local communities and better value.

The need for a joined-up, bold vision is what has inspired the 25-year plans we will publish in the next few months for food and farming and for the environment.

We will decentralise decision-making. That’s the approach we are taking with the Somerset Rivers Authority and the Cumbrian Floods Partnership – I am glad the Communities Secretary has given the Authority the power to raise a Shadow Precept from this April on the way to long-term local funding.

Subject to parliamentary approval, we will also allow farmers across the country to maintain ditches up to 1.5km long from April, so they can dredge and clear debris and manage the land to stop it getting waterlogged. This follows the successful pilots we started two years ago. We will also soon announce proposals to give internal drainage boards and other groups more power to maintain local watercourses.

Our reforms will also help farmers by getting rid of unnecessary red tape. It will become simpler to apply for permits. We will cut thousands more inspections with the Single Farm Inspection Task Force.

And we are improving the way the RPA operates under Mark Grimshaw’s leadership. 2015 was a very challenging year – with a complex new CAP and tough international markets. Despite the majority of payments being made by December 31st, as we pledged, I recognise cash-flow is an issue for many. That’s why I am making sure the RPA has all the resources it needs to make sure payments go out as soon as possible.


If our food and farming industry is to power ahead, it is vital that Brussels becomes more flexible, more competitive and cuts the red tape.

That is why I am fighting for reforms like getting rid of the three-crop rule, reforming the over-the-top audit and controls regime, and the absurd requirement for farmers to put up ugly posters in the countryside to publicise EU funding.

I fully support the Prime Minister’s renegotiation of our relationship with the EU. I have seen how hard he is fighting to get a better deal for Britain. Of course it is difficult – negotiating with 27 countries will never be easy. But front and centre of our mind is Britain’s economic and national security. Let me give you one example: improving Europe’s competitiveness is a key plank of our reforms, and I can see what it would mean for our farmers and food producers.

It would make Europe more flexible, outward-looking and dynamic, and we could see faster progress on a China Free Trade agreement. That will mean our dairy producers no longer paying 15 percent tariffs. And it could make a real difference to companies like Cranswick in Yorkshire, who employ 5,000 people and have contributed to the doubling of our food trade with China over the past five years. There is a huge prize at stake and one worth fighting for.

In the end, the British people will decide. Because we made a promise and kept it – to deliver an in-out referendum.

Productivity and competitiveness

This country already has some of the best farmers in the world. Many of them are in this room. And I am proud that our food is produced to world-leading standards of quality, safety, traceability and animal welfare. To make the most of this talent and quality, we need to work with farmers to raise our productivity and close the gap with some of our leading competitors.

That means supporting businesses to increase investment, improve skills across the sector, grasp innovation opportunities and make the most of one of our most precious assets, the Great British Brand.


Farming businesses have invested strongly in recent years and we need to drive that forward. We need more capital going into the right investments to improve productivity in farming and throughout the food chain. That includes foreign investment – in 2014, foreign companies invested more in British food and drink than in all other manufacturing put together.

We are providing support with our reforms to tax averaging and investment allowances that will help farmers plan capital spending for the long term.

The best managers in farming are putting money into skills, innovation and the right technology to boost productivity and profits. I would like to see this best practice spread right across the industry.

Innovation and skills

Britain has some of the most visionary scientists in the world at places like Rothamsted and John Innes. We have world-famous colleges and universities like Cirencester and Harper Adams, who are training a new generation of farmers.

In addition, the government is putting £80 million into centres for livestock, crop health, precision engineering and data. We are developing the Food Innovation Network, announced by the Prime Minister last summer, to make sure ambitious entrepreneurs are linked up to the latest scientific knowledge. And we will be raising skill levels across the workforce by trebling the number of apprentices in food and farming.

British brand

2016 will be the Year of GREAT British Food, opening a long-term campaign. We are going to have a calendar of trade missions and events in the UK that showcase businesses big and small.

Our farmers are intensely proud of British produce and for years they have wanted to get the message out. I am pleased that the beef, lamb and pork levy boards, as part of the AHDB, will be involved in the campaign and celebrating the British origin of their produce in everything they do.

And people will know meat will be British, thanks to the new rules on country of origin labelling for pork, lamb and chicken that came into force last April.

The new Great British Food Unit, which we promised in our manifesto, started work this week, bringing practical help and expertise, particularly for producers breaking into new markets. We have already made improvements, bringing in a 24-hour turnaround time for export health certificates.


We have to sharpen our competitiveness and productivity and look outwards, and we have to build up our resilience to the growing risk of shocks and events from the changing climate and increased global trade.


There is no single answer to improve our resilience to flooding. Dredging, tree planting, improved defences, all have a role to play.

For the first time we have put in place a 6-year programme for flood defences of £2.3 billion – a real terms increase in investment. More than half of our best-quality land is on plains where there is a potential risk. And over this decade we will be protecting an additional million acres – 580,000 in the last parliament and a further 420,000 by 2021.

The new Natural Capital Committee led by Dieter Helm will, as part of its remit, look at catchment management and upstream solutions to flooding, learning from innovative programmes like Slowing the Flow in Pickering, which works with nature to reduce risk.

And our National Flood Resilience review, which will report in the summer, is stress-testing the way we assess risk to make sure we build the right defences in the right places in the light of the latest science on climate change.

Animal disease

We are also improving our resilience to animal disease by investing around £65 million in new capital. This will bring us state-of-the-art laboratories and fund the upgrade of our bio-containment facilities at Weybridge, securing our ability to fight diseases like swine fever and avian flu.

I am absolutely committed to eradicate TB. We are making good progress against what is the gravest animal disease threat facing Britain, with half of England due to be declared TB-free by 2020.

Our approach of tackling the disease both in cattle and wildlife has worked in Australia and is working in Ireland and New Zealand.

Thanks to the efforts and dedication of local farmers, all three areas – Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset – hit their target in 2015. The Chief Veterinary Officer is clear this policy needs to be followed over a wider area to secure full disease control benefits. That’s why I announced, in line with his advice, I want to see culling in more areas this year.

New cases of TB are levelling off, but we still have the highest rate in Europe. I will do whatever it takes to get rid of this terrible disease.


We have a long-term plan to improve competitiveness and build Britain’s resilience. The global challenges we face bring huge opportunities for new prosperity, jobs, environmental progress and global leadership.

This will require bold ambition and bold solutions from government and from industry. Britain is well placed to succeed, we have a proud heritage and, I believe, an even prouder future. Together we can make sure our food producers will take the lead in feeding the world.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Truss – 2015 Speech at Launch of Great British Food

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of a speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on 3 November 2015 at the launch of Great British Food.

Thanks very much, Sam [Bompas]. It’s fantastic to be here this evening and to see what I hope is the start of a massive campaign to celebrate great British food.

When I was growing up in Leeds, quite often I would be stuck in the city centre next to the bus stop at Briggate and I would look at the Chinese restaurant over the road and the sign in the window, which said: “Enjoy life. Dine here often”.

That just struck me, it’s the philosophy I have now adopted for the way I live, because food is vitally important for all of us. It is what makes us tick, literally, and it is so vital to our lives, wherever we live, however long we live.

And I think it is an important part of our society and our culture. It is fantastic to be here at the first ever Museum of Food and I understand that, Sam, you plan to open this for longer and maybe even find an even more exciting venue in the future for this museum.

But I think the exuberance of this museum, the excitement of this museum, really conveys what it is that is so all-consuming about food. Yesterday, I was photographed in the butterfly enclosure, where I was sat upon by various butterflies as was Sam.

And I am very pleased that they mentioned our National Pollinator Strategy, but it also shows how important food is to our environment and the interaction between food and the environment.

We also have the chocolate room, we have the sensory experiences and also the menus. And if you get a chance, look at the menus that go back to Victorian times or the prisoner-of-war camps.

And we have the Victorian food heroes. I have one here called Agnes Marshall, who was the Victorian Queen of Ices and who is celebrated at this museum.

Now what we are doing today is we are saying that we have fantastic food pioneers who have gone out of their way to transform British food culture.

We are here at Borough Market, which I think is an exemplar of that and I think the canapes have been wonderful this evening.

These people have gone and taken on a culture and they have transformed it. What we want to do is harness those champions and to promote our food and our food culture not just here in Britain but right around the world.

Next week, I’ll be in China with a group of Food Pioneers. But also I think there is a chance to talk more in our own country about what is fantastically special about British food.

Next year’s food campaign is going to involve events, it is going to involve trade missions, pop-ups, even pop-ups in Defra, which we’ll be organising–but also linking together the parts of government that deal with food, so UKTI on the food promotion side, and Defra on food exports, to create a Great British Food Unit that really is a champion for food right across government.

What we want to do is to challenge people’s perceptions about British food. If you ask people overseas what they think, they will mention fish and chips, that will be the number one thing.

Again, people in Britain are not as proud of our food as maybe we should be. There is massive potential to grow the industry, which is already worth £100bn a year and I want to make sure that we help people understand the opportunities with food—the ability to cook it, the ability to enjoy it and the ability to work in it–today we have the government’s apprenticeships adviser, … we are going to triple the number of apprentices in British food and farming.

But the fact is that British food did go through some Dark Ages between the Victorian pioneers we are talking about and the modern pioneers we are celebrating today.

There was the era of the war and rationing, there was the post-war supply controls that we experienced. There was the food of the 1970s and 1980s, some of which I would rather forget, a lot of which came out of packets. You didn’t quite know if you couldn’t see the label on the packet what was in it.

But we are now at a stage where we are beginning to connect with the food and where it comes from, we are beginning to understand that. And it’s really thanks to the people in this room and the people beyond this room who have made that change happen.

And it is the Food Pioneers who have challenged the way we do things and they have not just revived the traditional techniques, they have actually invented new techniques. They have brought in cuisines from other cultures and they have made them British and they are now exporting them around the world.

So we have Karan Bilimoria from Cobra, who is taking the chicken tikka masala, the British curry, to Delhi, to talk about how we can make curry.

We have got Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, who not only revolutionised the fast food industry, but also helped changed the way that our children eat food in schools and also created new cookery lessons.

We have Jon Hammond, whose striking beetroot is being put into ready meals around the country.

We have got Jessica Tucker, from [Urban Food Fest], who has got a new generation of millennials involved in food. Of course they have to spend most of the time taking photographs of the food rather than eating it, but that is the price that they pay.

And we have many more people here today who are involved, who are making that change happen. If you have not had not the opportunity to visit Sipsmith and their fantastic gin stand, I highly recommend it.

What we have done at Defra is we have released some of the food data going back to the 1940s, which shows how we have changed as a nation in terms of our attitude to food.

We have gone from high levels of consumption of margarine to butter being revived. We have gone to tinned fruit through to fresh fruit and we have adopted all these new things, whether it’s Italian food or French influences.

But now those foods that we once considered exotic are being produced in Britain. So we have chillies being grown in Devon, we have wasabi grown in Dorset, we are creating sweet potatoes, they are grown in Kent. And today we have got Cornerways from Norfolk, who are producing tomatoes virtually year-round using the heat created from a sugar factory.

So these innovators are not just creating the traditional British dishes, they are creating a whole lot of new dishes that we can all enjoy.

We are also seeing a celebration of our landscape, like Yorkshire Wensleydale—and Gary Verity of course who famously brought the chefs of France to Yorkshire to prove to them we could produce Michelin-starred cuisine better than they could and of course won the Tour de France for Yorkshire.

And I think Gary is going to be doing a big event next year looking at how British food compares to French food at the Tour de France in France. And we have also got Jimmy Buchan showing how fantastic our coasts are and the great opportunities for fishing and seafood.

I think the final thing I want to say tonight is that all the people in this room are deeply involved and deeply love and care about food. That is why we are here, we are passionate, we want to make progress, we want to share our love of such a fantastic product with everybody else.

And I think the opportunity that we have got with the Great Year of British Food next year is to get that message across to a much wider audience, both here and overseas.

In the past, I remember growing up and being told by people that it was places like Italy and France that had great food and that here in Britain it wasn’t really very much, and that if you wanted sophistication you ought to go to an Italian restaurant to get it.

Now that is no longer true and people in this room changed what British food is, but what we now need to do is make that mainstream both here in Britain and overseas. And I think that is a massive opportunity. Thank you.

Elizabeth Truss – 2014 Speech on Childcare

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Education and Childcare Minister, at White & Case LLP in London on 17th June 2014.

Thanks very much. It’s great to be here at CityFathers and CityMothers – CityParents.

And I’m very impressed by the rate of growth in your organisation since last year.

As we all know, parenting is one of the most important jobs any of us will ever do.

And not just for mothers – it’s a job for both parents.

Apart from actually giving birth – which women haven’t yet managed to delegate, despite Arnold Schwarzenegger films suggesting otherwise – fathers face just the same challenges and dilemmas as mothers, and it’s very important for both parents to be involved in their children’s lives.

In defence of parents

Sometimes it feels as though the whole issue of parenthood has never been more fraught.

The debate swings between blaming parents for all society’s problems – for being too focused on their own careers and neglecting their children, letting them run riot and play computer games late into the night.

Or it blames them for being too obsessed with their own offspring – painting an unfair and untrue picture of entitled mums and dads ramming their Bugaboos into pedestrians, clogging up the streets on the school run and hogging all the best spaces in supermarket car parks.

The reality – of course – is that neither of these gargoyle stereotypes is true.

In fact parents today are working harder than ever, spending more time with their children than ever, and worrying more and more about how to help their child succeed.

Across the developed world, the trend is increasingly for dual-income families. Sixty per cent of families in the OECD have 2 parents in work – and about two-thirds of mothers in the UK are in paid employment.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not working hard at home as well. This generation of working parents with young children spends more time on childcare than stay-at-home parents did in the 1970s. And stay-at-home parents are devoting more time to their children.

According to the Multinational Time Use Study in 2005, employed women spent an average of 97 minutes per day with their children below the age of 4 – 20 minutes more than non-working mothers did in 1974.

So we should all speak in defence of parents and the work they do – and regardless of where they live or what they do, all the parents I meet have one thing in common. They’re really concerned about their children’s welfare; about how they’re getting on at school, and whether they’re happy; about whether they’ll get good grades, get a good job and get on the housing ladder.

Institutions to fit the modern world

Because as we all know, the world is getting more and more competitive.

The globe is shrinking, and people hop from continent to continent for work, study, and travel – while the relentless march of technology is transforming our jobs, our homes, and our lives.

Mostly, for the better. The internet has brought the world to our desk and our door; we can talk to people on the other side of the globe instantly, for free; the employment market is much more fluid, and much more dynamic, and people can increasingly move in and out of jobs and careers, of full-time and part-time and flexible work. As more basic tasks are automated or robotised, human intelligence and skill is more important than ever, and many of our jobs are getting fuller and more interesting.

It’s easy sometimes to take our world of limitless opportunities for granted. Remember when 4 TV channels felt like unimaginable luxury? When getting sports results on Ceefax was like magic? When everyone had to carry a London A to Z to have any hope of getting around? We now rely on technology.

But modern life can also be tiring. When you can communicate instantly, the speed of life and of work increases exponentially – and with emails, BlackBerrys, mobiles, wifi, we are ‘always on’ and always frenetic.

All too often, corporate culture rewards the person who stays longer and later – regardless of whether they’re actually doing the best job and delivering the best outcomes.

Look at my workplace – the ultimate example of presenteeism, where you have to show up in person to walk through a lobby and vote at 10pm.

Our workplaces – our institutions – need to adapt to the world we live in. Too often they are saddled with the cultural assumptions of the past. They need to focus more on the work employees do, and the results they achieve, than the hours they spend in the office.

That would be better for the economy – and better for all of us.

Education ever more important

And, above all, it would be better for our children.

Because if the world feels fast now – just imagine how much faster it will feel in 20 or 30 years’ time.

Our children will face competition from the rising, hungry nations of the world; will do jobs we can’t even imagine, working in ways we can’t predict.

The one thing we know is that education and skills will only become more crucial. The correlation between international test scores at age 15 and economic growth has already increased by a third in the last few decades.

And we know that other countries and regions are racing ahead. Fifteen-year-olds in Shanghai are already 3 years ahead of those in this country in maths. And those in Poland are one year ahead.

That’s why education and childcare go hand in hand. We need to support parents and also give children the best start in life.

That’s why this government is doing everything possible to drive up standards in schools and help every child reach their full potential.

Of course we also want rounded, creative, innovative youngsters – who are resilient and can handle change.

Just this weekend, I published new guidance helping teachers to identify and support young people suffering from underlying mental health problems – meaning healthier, happier classrooms.

Schools to support modern life

And we’re determined to make schools become institutions that work better with modern life – that prepare children for all the challenges of the modern world, and support and help families.

That’s why Michael Gove announced earlier this year that he wants state schools – just like independent schools – to offer a school day 9 or 10 hours long, and we will support schools to do this.

Not necessarily for extra lessons – but for a safe, calm place to do homework, or to go over classes which you didn’t get the first time round; time for clubs like debating, cadets, orchestras, sport and drama, for volunteering or careers talks from employers – all the sort of enrichment activities which our best schools already offer as a matter of course.

And I’m pleased to say that new research from the DfE shows that last year around half of all primaries in England – almost 10,000 schools – were offering care both before and after school during term time, breakfast clubs, homework clubs, and so on.

Sixty-four per cent of all English primary schools provided access to before school care, 70% provided access to after school care and 19% provided access to holiday care.

And before and after school care is actually most common in schools in the most deprived areas – helping to give children who need it a better start in life. Seventy-three per cent of primary schools in the most deprived areas run before-school activities, for example, compared with just 61% in the rest of the country.

Of course, for parents who work, an extended school day makes balancing care and career much easier.

At the moment, the school day normally runs from 9 to 3 – meaning that any parent whose work day runs beyond these hours is completely stuck.

By extending that day, parents can spend less time fretting about getting out of work on time – and spend more time together as a family.

Academies already have the freedom to extend the school day – and many are using that freedom to achieve brilliant results.

Like Great Yarmouth Primary School, in Norfolk.

Until September 2012, this was Greenacre Primary – one of the worst schools in the country, in special measures after it was condemned by inspectors in 2010 as failing.

Under the expert stewardship of the Inspiration Trust, led by Theodore Agnew and Dame Rachel de Souza, and the fantastic leadership of head Bill Holledge, it was reopened as an academy in 2012 – open until 5 or 6pm most evenings, offering pupils a free programme of after school activities, from horseriding and cookery to sport, drama and music, along with supervised homework sessions.

Just last week, it was rated good with outstanding leadership by Ofsted – an incredible turnaround.

As the Ofsted report said, “enrichment activities and study sessions provided as part of the mandatory extended day increase pupils’ self confidence, life skills and engagement in learning. They contribute to the pupils’ improving achievement.”

School-based nurseries

As well as wanting to see more schools offer that sort of provision, we also want more schools to reach down the age range and offer nurseries for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds as well.

Like Evelyn Street Primary School in Warrington – a school of about 200 pupils between 2 and 11, rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Their nursery already has 52 places for 3- and 4-year-olds. Now, it’s started offering 16 places to 2-year-olds as well, which are already in high demand.

As far as parents are concerned, it’s one joined up service. Nursery care is available from 8am to 6pm. Parents can choose the times they need, and use their funded hours for any of them, topping up with paid-for care if necessary, getting really high-quality, teacher-led nursery care. And Evelyn Street is managing to provide this at two-thirds of the average childcare cost in the North West because they share so many of the costs with the school.

And they’re achieving great results. Because children and parents engage with school much earlier, both attainment and behaviour are noticeably better, particularly among the most vulnerable children.

The idea of using our schools better has growing support from all political parties – in fact, just last week, Margaret Hodge MP said that:

The sensible policy direction would have been to locate more and more of our childcare offer in schools rather than build other buildings partly because it would be more sustainable, partly because it would make better use of valuable community assets and [is] where people feel comfortable, and partly because it brings the influence of the education community to bear on the quality of childcare provision.

We know that there’s huge demand from parents – and already, the school census shows that in January 2013, 5,358 state-funded mainstream primary schools recorded themselves as having ‘nursery-type’ school classes – over 30% of the total.

So we’ve made it easier than ever for every school to open a nursery for the whole day from 8am to 6pm.

Over the last year, 49 schools all over the country planning and delivering places for 2-year-olds – both in the country and in cities – have been helping us to work out how we can make it easier for more schools to offer places to 2-year-olds.

It’s been a huge success. Three-quarters of their in-house school nurseries are already full up. And while the traditional nurseries that we’ve got at the moment only offer care for half the day at most, 4 out of 5 of these new model school nurseries are now offering full-time care, in both the morning and the afternoon, making life much easier for parents who work full time.

Because these nurseries are based on the same site as schools, they can work much more closely together – sharing breakfast, after school and holiday clubs, and providing continuity from early education into education.

Many of the people in this room may think that 8am to 6pm doesn’t work with their schedules. So we’re also introducing childminder agencies from this September, giving much greater flexibility. One of them, for example, will be operating within a school, offering a seamless, flexible service to parents. By offering cover and quality assurance, childminder agencies provide a one-stop shop – while making it much easier for more people to become childminders and work with both schools and parents.

Better for parents

As far as parents are concerned, schools can offer one, joined up, flexible offer – meaning that parents can choose the services they need, and pay for them with government-funded hours, our new Tax-Free Childcare worth £2,000 per child per year, their own money, or both.

And by using our school facilities better, we can get much better value for money and a better integrated service.

So we want many more schools to get involved. We’re speaking to all the big academy chains, encouraging them to lead the way, linking with private nurseries to provide the best offer to parents.

And we’re also working with children’s centres – which offer early help and are based in the most deprived areas – are now reaching out to more parents.

We’ve just had some very good results last week that 90% of eligible parents are now registered by children’s centres, and 90 to 98% are very or fairly satisfied with the services they received, including activities like breastfeeding support and parent/baby classes.


In this room we’ve got a group of pioneers, demanding a culture change from their workplaces to focus on outcomes, not presenteeism.

In the same way, we should also demand a culture change in the schools. Next time you are in your child’s school, if they don’t already, ask them whether they’re planning to offer 8 to 6 provision – ask whether they’re going to extend their age range downwards, and welcome 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds to be part of the school family.

We all need to be asking those questions of our schools. We know that the world has changed since we were children – and parenting has changed along with it.

Our institutions need to change too. They need to work with us, and support us.

In the workplace and the playground, the office and the classroom, we need our institutions to support and help family life – helping parents, helping children, helping our whole society.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Truss – 2014 Speech on Technology and Maths

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, at Bloomberg in London on 16th May 2014.

Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here.

It’s hard to avoid technology news: we’re all quite used to headlines about Amazon delivery by drones, or driverless cars and more.

But I recently found something that was news to me. We’ve had 2D printing for years. Then we got 3D printing – printing everything from guns to body parts.

Now – we have 4D printing.

At first I thought this meant time travel. Or perhaps printing in a parallel universe. Or maybe it just meant making props for Doctor Who.

Not quite: it means 3D-printed parts that can assemble themselves.

And it’s such a sign of the times.

Technology is evolving faster and faster – and every sector in every economy is being transformed.

And in turn, that’s changing the importance of education.

Forty years ago, you could maybe have argued our economy was essentially static.

Most people expected a single career – and even employer – for most of their working lives. You might move around, and move up: but for many, the shape of their lives was influenced by your background, your local industries, your local economy.

That’s changed.

Now, with technology, and globalisation, the jobs market is much more fluid, and much more dynamic.

We’re collaborating and competing not just within our own borders – but across the world – and not just with other people – but with ever-more powerful computers and machines.

And that means the link between educational success and economic success has never been stronger.

Because if we’re a highly educated society – we can take advantage of these big, sweeping trends.

That means that now there’s no longer any fixed limit on the number of high-end jobs that can be created and located in Britain.

Now, the freedom and fluidity of technology means anyone with the right skills can go on to create products and services that people want.

Now, there’s no reason for all our children to go on and live and earn well.

Our future growth starts in the classroom.

And in particular, it starts with maths.

One of the effects of new technology is that maths skills are more and more important – in every sector.

Maths has the highest earnings premium – up to 10% at A level – evidence of the huge demand – and employers consistently say they need skilled, maths-savvy staff.

That’s why we recently launched the Your Life campaign.

This is a group of innovators in technology, engineering, finance and numerous other fields.

They’ve joined together to campaign for more young people to take up maths and science subjects.

They want to see a 50% increase in the numbers of students taking physics and maths A level within 3 years.

They treat young people as masters of their own destiny. It targets students as decision-makers about their own career.

It is unashamedly aspirational: telling them the earnings potential and career success that maths can give.

And just as important, it doesn’t treat maths and science as subjects only necessary to go into scientific careers.

It pitches them as essential for success in any number of walks of life – because of that changing economy.

And we’ve got a fantastic board to prove it.

Like Edwina Dunn, who pioneered Tesco’s Clubcard. Sarah Wood, who runs a viral marketing agency. Eben Upton, who invented Raspberry Pi, a new type of computer, and jets between Sheffield and Silicon Valley.

Or engineers like Roma Agrawal, who helped build the Shard. Or the 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio, who sold an app to Yahoo! – who unfortunately couldn’t attend the launch because he was, in fact, sitting his A levels.

That shows the range of industries where maths matters.

And that breadth is equalled in the organisations supporting the campaign.

From Airbus to Facebook, L’Oreal to Lloyds, it’s an impressive list of household names from every sector.

And some of the companies are supporting new maths and physics chairs, too.

These are postgraduate specialists in maths and physics, hired to inject their enthusiasm and subject expertise into schools – to raise standards and get children excited about maths and physics.

The new chairs will provide masterclasses, online lesson demonstrations. They will help link the classroom to business and universities and complement other great programmes like stimulating physics and maths hubs.

Recruitment is already underway, and the first chairs will be in classrooms from this autumn. In due course we want to see hundreds recruited. And we’re looking for more businesses to come and support them.

The whole campaign is proof of the variety of employers desperately seeking better maths and science: and the range of people we need to work together, if we’re to see a massive change in attitudes to maths and science.

It’s a sign that in today’s economy, and for tomorrow’s growth – maths is absolutely essential.

If we get it right, the opportunity is huge.

And the next time the BIS summit comes around, who knows what technologies will have been invented.

Maybe we’ll all arrive in driverless cars, sit down with screens implanted on our contact lenses, hear talks from holograms – who knows?

But if we want our children to be involved in that future – to lead it, to create and thrive and invent – then we need education. And that starts with better maths.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Truss – 2014 Speech on Maths and Science

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, at the Science Museum in London on 7th May 2014.

Earlier this year I visited Shanghai to see why they were number 1 in maths education – why there is virtually no difference in performance between girls and boys or those from low and high income backgrounds.

I saw great teaching, motivated students and lots of hard work.

But more than that I saw a deep belief in maths and science – students told me of their ambitions to be engineers, work in tech or teach the subject.

One professor told me there was a Chinese saying “maths gets you everywhere”.

They were right. Every sector in our economy has been transformed by technology. There is no such thing as a job where maths is not useful.

Big data and statistics are now as vital in marketing as they are in medicine. The earnings premium on studying engineering, physics or maths is increasing by the day.

That’s why business is speaking out so strongly today as the Chancellor mentioned.

For our children to go on and succeed in the modern world – they need maths and science.

Progress, but still work to do

The message is getting through. A majority of the public now think maths and science are important for young people’s careers – it was only 27% in 2008.

Record numbers of pupils entering the sciences at GCSE and A level – and almost as many girls as boys take GCSE physics – almost 75,000.

But despite these advances – the pipeline of talent is broken at age 16.

A-levels are the most popular choice at 16. But only 2% of girls taking A level do physics and only 8% do maths – the numbers aren’t much better for boys.

We ran focus groups of teenagers in Leeds, York and London a month ago. These bright and ambitious young people wanted success, to know that a career would be interesting, enjoyable and well rewarded.

Their views on maths and physics were as follows:

– male

– equations

– glasses

– boring

– formula

– irrelevant

They didn’t know that maths is the only A level proven to increase earnings in later life – by an average of 10%.

They were surprised to hear that maths and physics aren’t just about a narrow range of careers – that they open doors.

Just look at the board for Your Life and what they’ve achieved through maths and science.

Edwina, in customer service. Sarah turning marketing on its head. Entrepreneurs like Belinda, Ruth, Sherry or Eben, who jets between Sheffield and Silicon Valley. Engineers like Roma, who helped build the Shard. Ben, sending missions to mars. Melanie, working on nuclear fusion, or coders like Nick.

They have got everywhere and that’s the message they are taking to the next generation.

They are focused on that broken pipeline at 16 – on giving young people, especially girls the confidence to believe that studying maths and physics can be for them and will open up a world of opportunities.

Which is why we’re acting

One of the most important factors in students taking these subjects is teachers encouraging them.

We’ve got 2 pupils here today in the audience. Neither liked maths. They wanted to drop it.

But they then went to Sir Isaac Newton Free School in Norwich. Its inspirational leadership were firm about the importance of maths – and told them to stick with it.

And now Christian, who wants to be a ship captain, knows he needs maths to get there.

And Ellen, who wants to be a child psychologist, has really got into the subject, looking forward to each and every lesson.

That’s what inspirational teachers can do. And we want more.

So today, we’re creating new maths and physics chairs.

These are postgraduate specialists in maths and physics, hired to inject their enthusiasm and subject expertise into schools – to raise standards and get children excited about maths and physics.

We know that in half of all mixed state schools no girls take physics A level.

We want to eradicate these science deserts.

The new chairs will provide masterclasses, online lesson demonstrations. They will help link the classroom to business and universities and complement other great programmes like stimulating physics and maths hubs.

And some great household names have sponsored the scheme, including GlaxoSmithKline, BAE Systems and Samsung.

These chairs will be paid £40,000 – an attractive offer.

Recruitment is already underway, and the first chairs will be in classrooms from this autumn. In due course we want to see hundreds recruited.

So thanks to Researchers in School, who are managing the scheme – to our sponsors – and of course the first chairs – who have the most important job of all.

Conclusion – just think what’s possible

And if we get this right – then the opportunity is huge.

Think of where we could be with dramatically more young people taking maths and science at 16. Think of the impact on productivity and competitiveness.

We’ll set our children up for a future as makers, inventors, coders, yes – but also marketers, journalists, managers too, everything from sea captains to psychologists, broadening their horizons – and giving them the very best start in life.

We want to be a can-do maths and science country.

This is our route to future success. Maths and science can get us everywhere.

Elizabeth Truss – 2014 Speech at Big Bang Fair

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Childcare Minister, at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham on 13th March 2014.

Thank you for that welcome it’s fantastic to be at the Big Bang Fair.

What a range of stalls and activities you’re about to see. From extracting the DNA of a blueberry to building a satellite – you’re in for a treat!

I’m very intrigued by the fact there’s even something claiming to be “the most disgusting show on Earth!”

This is a great celebration of science and maths and where they can get you – the answer is they can get you everywhere.

From fashion to farming, from Snap Fashion’s underlying algorithm to the latest agricultural technology – if you want to launch the next Facebook or be big in the city, it all starts here.

It’s not just exciting, it’s important for career prospects. Maths commands the highest earnings premium in the jobs market, science and tech occupations earn 19% more than other professions.

The OECD has said that half the gender pay gap is down to less use of problem-solving – these are key skills developed in maths and science.

It’s so important that we get more young people studying and enjoying these subjects, particularly young girls.

I’m pleased to say that we’re going in the right direction:

– record number of students taking maths and science A levels

– record number of girls taking GCSE physics – an important precursor of engineering

And I’m pleased to say that a new report on attitudes to science which is being published by BIS tomorrow shows an increasing understanding of the importance of science.

In 2008 fewer than a third strongly agreed that young people’s interest in science was essential for our future prosperity. Now in 2014, more than half think that.

You here at the Big Bang Fair are the trend-setters!

Elizabeth Truss – 2014 Speech on Childcare Reform

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, at the Resolution Foundation in London on 13th February 2014.

We live in a time of big changes: unprecedented globalisation, new technologies, and a shifting balance of global economic power.

As the research of the Resolution Foundation shows, these powerful forces are changing how we work – and what we do.

It’s making the link between education and earnings much stronger – because a tech-led, outward-facing economy rewards the highly-skilled.

The OECD, for example, says that the association between education scores and GDP growth increased by a third from 1960 to 1980 and 1980 to 2000.

And the pay and prospects of families are changing, too.

Across the developed world, it has become the norm for both parents to work. In 60% of 2-parent families in the OECD, both parents work. And the concept of work itself is changing – becoming more flexible. People change jobs more often – and mums and dads use different combinations of work – sometimes holding down 2 or more jobs.

Day in day out, they’re taking decisions about how they structure work – while also raising happy, successful children.

For anyone that’s ever rushed home from a meeting to the school gates, or sat down to work out how to balance family time and family bills – they’ll know that this often feels like a challenge.

But I think these conditions present an opportunity.

Because a changing economy means that parents need affordable, available childcare more than ever.

A changing world means that children need a rigorous, rounded education more than ever.

The opportunity is to join those 2 things together – so that we achieve both.

The opportunity

Get it right, and we help parents – and give children a good start in life.

That is the potential of an education and childcare system that works.

And that’s why we’re reforming education, and reforming childcare.

Longer school day

Because at the moment, some children are falling behind.

Since 2010, the number of children in failing schools has dropped – by a quarter of a million. But we still have a long tail of poor academic performance.

And it’s not just academic performance. Whether it’s simple things like not having space to do homework – or big things like not being encouraged into core academic subjects – we have a long-term issue with low social capital – of pupils who lack the cultural knowledge or network to succeed.

And for parents, we know things are often frustrating.

Listen to the blogger Rebecca Allen, a researcher at the Institute of Education, talking about what happens when schools close in mid-afternoon:

I am resigned to spending many afternoons each week standing at the school gate, driving my children to extra-curricular clubs, sitting reading my Twitter feed while the club is running, driving them home and preparing their tea while they watch TV. Yes, it is great for families to spend quality time together, but this doesn’t feel like good quality time to me.

Some children left behind – some parents feel unsupported.

This is why Michael Gove announced last week that a future Conservative government would help state schools – just like independent schools – to offer a school day 9 or 10 hours long.

That extra time would help children who might otherwise slip. It would provide a safe, supervised place to do homework – and in particular, ensure everyone masters the core academic subjects – maths, English, sciences, languages, history and geography subjects that wealthier families have always encouraged their children into – and that our competitors like Germany and Poland now mandate for all children to at least 16.

And at the same time, it would help all children build character, confidence and resilience. It would provide time for debating, cadets, orchestras, drama, volunteering, getting employers in to develop technical skills and get ready for the world of work – things that nurture rounded young people – activities that wealthier families often take for granted.

And for parents who want to work, an extended school day makes balancing work and care much easier.

Of course, some schools do it already.

Like Great Yarmouth Primary School. Their school day runs from 9 to 5 for years 3 and 4, and to 6pm for years 5 to 6 – using that time to provide team sports, drama, extra maths, and supervised homework clubs.

Or Bourne Abbey Church of England in Lincolnshire. They’re a converter academy, offering provision, from 7:30am to 6pm. They’re rated outstanding.

They show you can expand children’s horizons, and support working parents.

It’s good to see teaching leaders like Russell Hobby recognise this. As he said, the current schedule of intense periods and long breaks doesn’t necessarily work for teachers, either. He welcomed a debate over an extended school day – because it’s not about teachers being on their feet long into the evening.

It’s about the fact that we have school buildings across the country, sitting empty for hours of each day. The fact that children need a broad, rounded education – which too many are currently denied. The fact that parents struggle to do the school to care run.

It’s about seeing results for children and support for parents as part of the same question.

So we’re making it easier for schools

So today, I am delighted to announce sweeping reform of the regulations around the school day and childcare.

We publish our response to a consultation, outlining plans for a simplification and improvement of the rules.

And that will make it easier for schools to offer a longer school day.

At the moment, if they want to bring in an external provider to run on-site care, they have to do new registrations. If they want to offer extensions of the school day, they have to struggle through a different set of staffing rules, different qualification rules, local consultations, and local authority permissions.

So we’re making the staffing requirements for out-of-hours the same – so that the school doesn’t need to worry about changing the numbers of staff, just because the clock’s struck 4.

We’re improving the child development guidance, so they don’t need to worry about meeting unnecessary rules about pedagogy and instruction.

And we’re removing unnecessary central rules around setting up after school clubs – so if they want to bring in an external childcare provider, they don’t have to worry about a pile of new paperwork.

Childcare outside schools

And we also want to makes it easier for the childcare around the school day, too.

At the moment, for example, childminders can’t operate outside homes.

So in future, they’ll be able to. If schools want to bring them in, they can just do it.

And at the moment, parents aren’t allowed to pay a neighbour, or relative, if they want them to look after their children for more than 2 hours – unless they register with Ofsted.

That’s just daft – especially when the gap between school finishing and work ending is more or less 2 hours exactly.

So the plans released today make it easier, increasing the time they can rely on informal care from 2 to 3 hours.

So a longer school day; making it easier for schools to offer childcare; more sensible regulations.

All of these things help parents.

Whatever combination of work and care is right for them – they should feel confident there’s an option.

Quality in childcare

We are also improving childcare for the under 5s – as well as raising the quality of provision.

All the evidence suggests once an attainment gap opens up, it’s hard to close later in life. At the moment, by the time they start school, poorer children are a full 18 months behind their richer peers in vocabulary development. It would be better to think about preventing the gap in the first place.

That requires high-quality staff and pedagogy suited to the age of the child.

The psychologist Daniel Willingham notes that it’s not a simple choice between academic or fun activities. Often, they’re the same thing. As he says:

Songs and rhyming games…help children hear that words are composed of individual sounds, making it easier to learn how to read letters.

Kids gain knowledge about the world – important for reading comprehension in later elementary years – when they are read to.

Jigsaw puzzles and globes help kids develop spatial skills, which later help with math.

Household rules teach children to learn to control their impulses, part of learning self-discipline.

And these activities need teachers to lead them.

Already, we’ve seen a 25% increase in the number of early years teachers recruited, when you compare September 2012 to 2013. We’ve introduced English and maths requirements, so that staff are themselves confident and have reached a minimum standard.

But we should also think about how providers structure their operation, too.

If they’re ambitious and smart, they can spend less money on overheads, make better use of their buildings, drive up their occupancy rates.

Meaning there’s more money to spend on high-quality staff.

And we know that containing costs doesn’t have to mean low quality. We know that other countries, like France or Germany, have excellent systems, for comparable amounts of government spending – while also paying staff good salaries and keeping parents’ costs affordable.

School nurseries

And we’re seeing it happen in England, too.

There are some great school nurseries out there. That are open 8 to 6. That offer affordable care. And that deliver outstanding quality.

Take schools like St Bede Primary Academy or Parbold Douglas Academy, in the North West. They are rated outstanding by Ofsted. They use highly qualified staff.

And because they’re smart about their sessions, their staffing and their costs – it only costs these schools about £6,000 a year to provide each place. Direct comparisons are difficult, but average for the North West as a whole is something like £9,000.

So not only do these schools help children: they help parents.

We want more school nurseries to have similar ambitions.

That’s why we are providing an £8 million fund to London local authorities – where costs are particularly acute – to extend their opening hours.

We’re working with 49 different schools as they offer places for 2-year-olds – seeing what works for their pupils and parents, and how school premises can be used to offer nursery places

And just imagine if all school nurseries opened longer. About two-fifths of all places provided in London are in school nurseries. Across the country, some 30% of all childcare is in school nurseries.

If they all went from 9 to 3 to 8 to 6 – that’s over a 60% increase in childcare hours at school nurseries.

Private nurseries and chains

And it’s not just school nurseries we want to see expand.

We’re backing high-quality private nurseries and chains, too.

We’re ending planning restrictions – so they can convert buildings without extra bureaucracy.

We’re simplifying funding – so that good or outstanding providers automatically get money.

And in the reforms announced today, we’re removing unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape – allowing providers to register multiple premises in one go.

All of that makes it easier for the best nurseries to grow – which in turn, makes it easier to provide quality care, and keep bills for parents low.

Of course, private providers have some extra costs, like VAT.

But it can be done.

Like Cedar Road nursery, in Northamptonshire, that I visited last week. I saw children toasting marshmallows by a campfire – learning and having fun. The local MP Michael Ellis and I were shown around by the Director, Tom Shea – and we were served some play dough ice creams, children learning counting and gross motor skills. Their staff are well-trained, and well-paid. It’s rated outstanding.

But what was really impressive was that they used their resources so well. They had 150 children on their books. They had reduced paperwork and recording to spend more time interacting with the children. And they had a capable manager – who could justify the progress children were making to Ofsted, without needing daily or weekly notes.


If we look at childminders, we can see similar issues.

Many are low-paid. Many struggle to fill their hours. Many have high costs for things like marketing or buying equipment – an average of £3,600 per year. We know that we have fewer younger childminders entering the profession – and it costs about £800 just to become a childminder.

So we’re helping by first, simplifying funding – so that any good or outstanding childminder automatically gets access to funding to provide free early education.

And second, we’re helping establish childminder agencies. So that the admin burden – marketing, accountancy, equipment, training, registration – is shared, so childminders spend less time on paperwork, and can concentrate on what they want to do – look after children.

About 20 organisations are trialling the agency model. We have schools, private enterprises, local authorities and a children’s centre – working out how they can help childminders, and meet parent’s needs in their local area.

Because we want more good childminders – both independent and agency.

Whole market working together

But crucially – whether it’s schools, private providers, nurseries or childminders – we want the system to work as a whole.

In schools, one of the big lessons of academy trusts and school chains is that they can drive up standards faster – by sharing resources, and learning quickly from each other, and stronger schools lending help to weaker.

By encouraging chains and expansion in nurseries and school nurseries, I hope we see the same pattern in early years.

And we want all providers to work together. So our rules move us towards a system that is much clearer and more coherent.

In registration – it makes no sense to have 3 separate, overlapping safeguarding requirements – so that childcare workers have to spend time working out which requirements apply to which registers.

So we want to make it simpler – with 1 set of aligned requirements.

In inspection, it makes little sense to have different requirements and rules for different providers.

So we want to make it simpler – with a much more coherent, flexible inspection framework.

Because we think of education as 1 system – and will work further with the National College of Teaching and Leadership and Ofsted towards a system where from 2 to 18, teachers have the same respect, the rules are equally clear, quality is equally valued, and parents are equally supported.

Parents survey

Things are moving in the right direction.

Last month we published our annual survey of parents. Those parents told us that hourly costs for nurseries were about 6% lower in 2012 to 2013 than 2011 to 2012 – and childminders, about 11%. It showed that low-income parents were accessing more childcare by 16%. And it showed that maternal employment had gone up.

And other surveys are encouraging, too – like the National Day Nurseries Association which showed more than half their members had frozen fees – or the recent study by Laing & Buisson finding that there has been no real growth in costs for the second year running.

That’s good – but we are not complacent. And our reforms aim to secure and advance these positive numbers.

Our vision

Because as I said when I started – the world is changing.

Families are feeling the impact of a growing, changing economy.

We want the highest of expectations for early years education. We want schools that excel at academic performance and also give confidence and resilience. We want education and childcare providers that respond to the modern world, and the way families live.

We want a system where not only can parents chose the life they want – get the balance of work and care that’s right for them – but can be confident their children are getting a rich, broad and effective education.

Support for parents, and a good education for children. That’s the opportunity – and that’s what our reforms aim to achieve.

Thank you.