David Cameron – 2014 Speech on the Economy


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 4th March 2014.

We have a long-term economic plan to secure this country’s future: cut the deficit, cut taxes, create more jobs, cap welfare, reduce immigration and deliver the best schools and skills for young people.

That’s our plan. And it’s working. You see that in the growth figures.

In the 1.3 million new jobs, the 25 million people who will pay less income tax, the 400,000 more businesses and in the new apprenticeships being announced today.

New, more rigorous, employer-led apprenticeships are being extended to 29 new occupations from law and high tech engineering to tourism and retail, giving thousands of young people the chance to develop new skills that will help secure their future.

And we’re on track to have 2 million people start apprenticeships over the course of this Parliament.

But I’ve not come here today to reel off statistics. I’m here to talk about what this plan is really all about, what it’s all for. Too often we’ve given the impression that we’re just about fixing problems rather than changing things for a purpose.

But that completely misunderstands what we’re trying to do. This is more than some turnaround team of accountants rescuing a failing business.

We want Britain to be a success in this modernised globalised world – we want to be a country that succeeds in what I call the global race.

But it’s not just what we are doing that matters: it’s why.

It’s all about values.

And the most important value right now – after a difficult time for our country – is giving people a sense of economic security and peace of mind.

Take our mission to cut the deficit. Of course, cutting the deficit matters for our economy.

Higher deficits mean more debt and higher mortgage rates with more people living in fear of losing their homes.

But there’s something even more fundamental here about our values.

If we don’t get to grips with the deficit now we are passing a greater and greater burden of debt to our children.

We are saying that more and more of their hard earned future income should be wasted on paying off the bill we leave them.

Do we really want to be the ones who responded to a crisis by putting off to tomorrow what we had to do today?

Can we really teach our children the importance of being responsible and at the same time shirk the most fundamental responsibility of all?

Some of our opponents seem to think we can.

They think we can carry on spending and borrowing more and more, whatever the consequences for our children.

But I say no: racking up more and more debts for our children is irresponsible.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. And I’m not prepared to do it.

Imagine looking your children in the eye and trying to explain why we crippled their future with our debt. I couldn’t do that. And I’m sure you couldn’t either.

We all want the same for our children: a secure future and a chance to make something of their lives. But they won’t get that future unless we cut the deficit now.

So that’s the first part of the plan.

What about the second: cutting taxes.

This isn’t about some ideological commitment to a smaller state. It’s actually about our values. We believe in helping people keep more of the money they earn.

It’s the right thing to do.

Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as government money. It’s your money – taxpayer money.

It’s not my money, not George Osborne’s money, not the government’s money – it’s your money.

Hard-working people’s money.

The money that belongs to people who get up in the morning, come rain or shine, and put in a shift on the factory floor or in the office.

And there’s no question who spends that money best – it’s you, the taxpayer, not government.

So it’s wrong for government to take a single penny more of your money than we absolutely need.

There’s a bit of an attitude problem here that really makes me angry.

Some people talk as if the sums of money the government spends are so big that it almost doesn’t matter about the odd pound or 2 here or there.

That’s totally irresponsible.

You wouldn’t take that approach to managing your money.

And neither should we in government.

That’s important at the best of times but it’s more important than ever when families are feeling the squeeze.

Because every bit of government waste we can cut, every efficiency we can achieve, is money we can give back to you.

A bit of extra cash that can help a Dad afford those trainers for his son or help a Mum celebrate her daughter’s birthday with a meal out.

Having more money in our pockets is what gives everyone that sense of financial security and peace of mind.

It’s what enables us to provide for our families and feel more confident about the future.

The same is true about the third part of the plan – our mission to create more jobs.

Take Demi Owoseje, whose small business restores old furniture.

She’s been helped by our Start Up Loans scheme to develop a customer friendly website and branch into new areas like a rental range with customers now including Jimmy Choo.

She’s started creating her first jobs so she’ll soon be helped by our Employment Allowance that will give her a £2,000 cashback on the jobs she creates.

And from next year, she won’t have to pay a penny in National Insurance on anyone she hires who is under 21.

But what really matters is not the help we’ve given Demi, but the help she’s giving others.

Our opponents said we would see a million jobs disappear.

But in fact, entrepreneurs like Demi, have helped to create 1.3 million more jobs today than there were in 2010.

We see the new job numbers every month when the figures come out.

But what matters far more than the numbers is the dignity people get from having a job.

There is nothing like the pride of the first time you get a pay cheque.

It gives you the chance of a more fulfilled life.

It gives you the opportunity to be more independent.

Most important of all, it gives you a sense of security and the peace of mind that you can support yourself and your family.

That is what I want from this plan, more than anything: sustainable and well-paid jobs.

We’re not going to get there by attacking business or putting their taxes up.

We need to be in the business of helping business – so they create the jobs that we all depend on.

And it’s working.

We are seeing a revival of manufacturing exports and a growth in small businesses.

More jobs created each month. And better paid jobs.

Last week the Low Pay Commission recommended the minimum wage should increase to £6.50.

That would be the first above inflation increase in 6 years.

And it something that’s only affordable because of the difficult decisions we have taken with our long-term economic plan.

Of course, the numbers matter but what matters even more is what it means for hard working people.

It means that as we recover from the great recession hard working people on the minimum wage – who have suffered during the tough times – can know they will share in the recovery.

So yes, I look forward to accepting this recommendation.

Restoring the value of the minimum wage is a vital part of how we secure a recovery for all with economic security for every working family in Britain.

Let me turn to those out of work.

The fourth part of our plan is about capping welfare and reducing immigration.

At the end of the so-called boom years, there were around 5 million people in our country of working age but on out-of-work benefits.

Almost a million and a half people had spent most of the last decade out of work and the number of households where no-one had ever worked had nearly doubled.

And this happened at the same time as the largest wave of migration in our country’s history.

Now I don’t care whether you are the leader of the Labour Party or the leader of the church, this kind of failure is just wrong.

It’s wrong to let our own people do nothing, with no purpose in their life, dependent on benefits.

It’s wrong that we open our doors and communities to such rapid levels of immigration they can’t manage.

And wrong that we ask British taxpayers to fund this situation with their hard-earned money.

As I’ve said before immigration and welfare are 2 sides of the same coin – and we’ve got to fix them both.

Let’s start with immigration.

Last week figures show what a big task we still face.

But things are starting to change.

In just 5 years between 2005 and 2010, for every British person who fell out of work, almost 2 foreign nationals gained employment.

But over the past year, almost 90 per cent of the increase in employment we’ve seen has been for UK nationals.

We’ve cut migration from outside the EU to its lowest levels since 1998.

We’re making it harder for migrants to come here and claim benefits or access public services within earning that entitlement first.

And the idea of allowing new countries to join the EU with immediate unfettered access to our labour markets is never going to happen again.

But it’s not just about controlling migration. The other side of the coin is welfare.

Again it’s back to a fundamental question of values.

Last week I went to a dinner in honour of D-Day Veterans.

One of the Veterans told me about how he came back from the war, went to the labour exchange and couldn’t find a job.

But then eventually he got offered a job at Ford in Dagenham.

It was hard work but he was proud to do it.

He said “I was able to work, they offered me a job and I had a responsibility to take it.”

There wasn’t an option to say: “no thanks, I’ll take the benefits instead.”

He looked me in the eye and said: “why can’t we go back to that?”

I agree with him.

I’ve always been clear that those who can’t work will always be supported.

But those who can work have a responsibility to do so and the welfare system should never take that responsibility away.

Why should some people work every hour God sends to try and make ends meet, only to see money taken out of their wages to support people who could work but who choose not to?

That’s why if people turn down job offers their benefits will be cut.

I want Britain to be a country where people are able to get on, stand on their own 2 feet and build a better life for themselves and their family.

I want a Britain where we reward those who work hard, play by the rules and do the right thing.

That’s what our long-term economic plan is all about.

Not just making the numbers add up – but doing what’s fair and what’s right.

You don’t create economic security with hand-outs. You do that with the dignity, independence and yes, the pay packet that comes with a job.

And that takes me to the final part of the plan.

Delivering the best schools and skills for young people.

Nothing I have spoken about today is more important for our future than this.

Education is the best inoculation against unemployment.

It’s what gives our children the skills they need to compete, get a job and secure their future and it’s what gives our country the platform from which to innovate, create new products and take on the world.

So an economic plan that doesn’t include delivering a first-class, world-class education system, is no economic plan at all.

Now some people look at what we’re doing in education, and think we are driven by some deep-seated ideology.

That’s total nonsense.

We are driven by our values.

Values like discipline – because we know no child can learn in chaos.

Rigour – because we know dumbing down cheats our children of their future.

Excellence for all – because we should be ambitious for every child, not just some.

And a focus on the fundamentals – because there isn’t a job in the world where you don’t need to read or add up properly.

But you know the most important value I bring to education?

It’s faith in our teachers.

Of course, we will never excuse failure and never shy away from difficult conversations about the quality of teaching in our country when it’s let children down.

But if you look at our academy or free schools programme, there is a single thread running through it:

Giving teachers the freedom to get on and teach, giving them control over how their schools are run and trusting them to get on with the job.

But it’s not just about what happens at school – it’s about what happens after school too.

I want all school leavers to have a rite of passage to further training or education.

And that’s why apprenticeships like those being announced today are so important.

Take Aiden Rogers who showed me round the Rolls Royce apprentice academy last year and who is here with us today.

Aiden told me he was studying for a degree while also earning – and learning – his trade.

He feels that being able to say “I started as an apprentice” is something that gives him “instant respect and credibility”.

And he describes how his apprenticeship has given him the confidence to communicate ideas and the opportunity to apply everything he has learned in a hands-on industrial setting.

As the winner of the EEF’s outstanding achievement award for a first year apprentice, Aiden is already aspiring to the day when he’s in a senior position. He’s getting the skills to give him every chance of that future.

I want all our young people to have the skills and the opportunity to aspire to a great future.

And that’s why delivering the best schools and skills are at the heart of our long-term economic plan.

So yes, we are sorting out the economy and getting the numbers to add up.

But we’re doing something much more than that.

We are doing what’s right for our country.

What’s right for our children.

What’s right for our future.

Because I want us to build a better Britain where we can look after future generations.

Where people can meet their obligations and provide for their families.

And where together we can secure a better, more independent future for all our people.

That is my fundamental mission in politics: to deliver economic security and peace of mind for every family in Britain.

And that is what our long-term economic plan is all about.