Like last year, the headlines in the early part of 2019 will be dominated by our upcoming leaving of the EU. However, it is worth reflecting on the many achievements of the Conservative government in 2018, which happened despite ongoing disruptive opposition from Labour. In 2018 the Conservatives reduced the burden of taxation, invested in our public services, continued to back working people, as well as keeping our economy strong.
Employment rose to a record high and average wages increased by 3.3% meaning that wages continued to rise faster than inflation. The National Living Wage increased to deliver a £690 annual pay rise to a full-time worker, taking the total annual pay rise since its introduction to £2,750. Added to this was an income tax cut for all 32 million workers, helping us to keep more of what we earn, by raising the level of personal allowance to £12,500 so that a typical basic rate taxpayer now pays £1,200 less tax than in 2010.
To further help hardworking families, fuel duty was frozen for the ninth successive year, saving the average car driver £1,000 by 2020. Plus the government has introduced a cap on energy tariffs, ending rip-off energy prices for millions of families this winter.
Last year the government set out how an extra £20.5 billion will be provided for the NHS by 2023-24 as part of its long-term plan for the NHS. This means an extra £394 million a week for the NHS as part of a historic five-year budget settlement, which is an average real terms increase of 3.4% every year to 2023-24.
Last year saw the delivery of more than 222,000 new homes including many here in Crawley, which was the highest in all but one of the last 31 years. This builds on the Conservatives' strong record of delivering more than 1.3 million new homes since 2010.
While the headlines may be all about Brexit, 2019 will quietly see our nation’s issues being addressed. I cannot stress enough how all of this is at serious risk should an extreme left-wing Labour government come to power.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
9th January 2019