It’s been a long road back for the British economy. In 2009 our deficit was at a post-war high, our economy shrank by 4.3% and millions feared for their jobs. Thanks to the hard work of the British people since then, we have reduced the deficit by three-quarters, we have been the second fastest growing G7 economy for the past two years, 2.9 million net new jobs have been created and our employment rate is the highest ever recorded.
By controlling our public spending, backing business and creating the environment for enterprise and investment to thrive, we have got the UK economy back on track.
But now we face new challenges. The deficit is down but debt is still too high. Unemployment is at a 40-year low, but real pay growth is stagnating. And I understand that people are weary of the hard slog of repairing the damage caused by Labour’s great recession.
All our progress could be put at risk if we listen to those who say we should abandon the economic plan that has brought us so far, just as we are coming to the final furlong. And it is up to all of us, in business and in Government, across every sector covered by The Parliamentary Review, to make the case, all over again, for a market economy, sound money and a system that incentivises enterprise and innovation.
So I will stick to the plan to bring the public finances back to balance, at a pace that supports the economy in the face of short-term challenges, and to make longerterm changes. I will pursue a Brexit outcome that puts jobs and prosperity first. And I will continue with my priority to build a productive and dynamic economy.
It is only by making sustained increases to our productivity that we can deliver the higher wages that will increase living standards and fund the improvement of our public services. That is why I announced the £23 billion of additional investment in infrastructure and innovation at the Autumn Statement last year, and why I launched an overhaul of our technical education system at the Spring Budget.
It is a good start, but there is more to do if we are to close the productivity gap with our competitors, and build a strong economy to provide opportunity, prosperity and the funding for public services that this country needs. I am determined to get on with the job.
This is how we can unlock the full potential of our economy and create an economy that works for everyone.