I hope that you have had a good festive season and are looking forward to 2015. Here are my priorities for the next 12 months.
We have many excellent schools and that is thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff, parents, governors.
My children attend schools in Maghull and I know as a parent just how good those schools are.
So in 2015, I want to make sure that our schools thrive and that teachers, non teaching staff and children all have the support and encouragement from the government that they need.
If we are to improve living standards in the long run, we need young people to leave school with the best skills for life so that businesses can have the best trained staff.
Prosperity can only increase if we have a well trained workforce so that businesses can thrive and provide better paid jobs. So education at school and beyond needs to be the best it can be. That means high quality apprenticeships as well as university degrees.
So I will continue to make education and skills one of my top priorities in the coming year.
Alongside improving skills, we need to make sure people are well paid. That means a living wage for those of you on low pay right now, an end to exploitation and the use of zero hours contracts and it means a higher minimum wage too.
Far too many people rely on social security to survive. Most people on benefits are in work, needing tax credits and other top ups because of part time work and zero hours contracts. But many of you face delays in payment, due to sanctions imposed by government ministers often applied by mistake. The hardship caused by benefit delays forces people to go to foodbanks which have seen a dramatic rise in use.
Finally, I want to see our NHs restored to good health. Delays at A&E and in getting a GP appointment a real problem for many of you.
So my priorities for the coming year are:
- to improve skills and education;
- to raise living standards with your pay going up this year;
- to cut the number of you who have to visit a foodbank;
- to end the scandal of benefits sanctions and delays;
- and to see an end to the crisis affecting our NHS, with a GP appointment within 48 hours and an end to the long delays in hospital appointments and at A&E.
I hope that you will support my efforts to achieve these goals.
Happy New Year.