We've made real progress since the start of the year in government, taking difficult decisions in the long-term interests of the country. And none of this would have been possible without your hard work and support.• We passed the Welfare Reform Bill, which introduced for the first time a cap on benefits at £26,000. No longer can out of work families get more in benefits that the average working household gets from going out to work.
• We have passed the Health and Social Care Bill, introducing greater competition and choice to make the NHS able to cope with the challenges of an aging population. And we've kept our promise to increase real term spending on the NHS year on year this Parliament.• We have delivered a Budget full of strong Conservative measures. At its heart a tax cut to reward work - 24 million people will benefit with most basic rate taxpayers seeing a gain of £220. By 2013, we will have taken 2 million people out of tax altogether• We have extended Right to Buy discounts - undoing Labour's cuts - and launched a New Buy scheme for new build houses – helping more families get a stake in our property owning democracy.• We have published a new planning framework: turning 1,000 pages of guidance into 50 pages, reforming the planning regime so that it can be a driver of growth, while protecting our precious countryside.
• We have launched our Youth Contract to get 16- and 17-year-olds who are out of work and not in education, earning or learning again. This is in addition to the Work Programme and the 170,000 new apprenticeships we have delivered in one year.• We are also freezing Council Tax, supporting weekly bin collections, standing up for Britain in Europe, renewing the nuclear deterrent, and keeping fuel duty 10p lower than it would have been under Labour.
• And from 9th April this year pensioners will see the biggest ever cash increase in the Basic State Pension, making them £5.30 a week or £276 a year better off.
Of course, we've faced difficult headlines in the past few days. But in the long run, it is these achievements that people will remember.Meanwhile Labour, in the pocket of unions like Unite, is opportunistically opposing all these measures. They still think we should solve their debt crisis with more debt, which would mean higher interest rates and more pain for families.This is the contrast as we approach the elections in May and we should take every opportunity to remind voters of it.
We must also remember that it is the support of you, the Party, which is enabling us to take the right decisions in Government. So we have done everything we can to strengthen and support the Party - boosting membership by professionalising the recruitment process and retention; encouraging people to apply to be Police and Crime Commissioners, with nearly 500 expressions of interest so far; driving down the cost of Party Conference, with a special deal for Birmingham this year; while taking our message up and down the country - holding Meet the Chairman sessions, fighting by-elections, campaigning and canvassing.