LAST week, the Prime Minister called a General Election, which will be held on July 4. 

I was elected as the first MP for the newly created Central Devon constituency in 2010 and, over the past 14 years, I have worked tirelessly to support constituents, whether through casework, raising issues in Parliament or serving as a Government minister.

Our constituency is one of the most rural in England and I knew that supporting rural communities would be a key part of my role.

Post Offices are a vital asset to rural communities, and we rely heavily on them here in Central Devon, which has the fourth highest number of any constituency in England.

Even prior to my election, I ran several “Use it or Lose it” campaigns for specific Post Office branches.

I raised more than 14,000 signatures for my petition against Labour’s Post Office closure policy by going door-to-door, which told me that support for Post Offices needed to be at the top of my priority list from day one.

As Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, I spoke out in the House of Commons against Barclays Bank’s refusal to let their customers withdraw money at local Post Office branches, resulting in Barclay’s reversing their decision.

I have since battled with Royal Mail over the removal of local sorting offices and challenged high street banks to better inform their customers of the banking services available at local Post Offices.  

Equally important to rural communities are small businesses and local enterprises, and I have supported numerous organisations in their search for financial support.

Central Devon has benefitted greatly from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund, with our most recent success story being Kennerleigh Community Shop, which was awarded £147,781.

Other beneficiaries of the fund include the Drewe Arms Community Pub and Bovey Tracey Paradiso Arts. I supported all of these applications and was delighted to hear they had been allocated Government funding.

We have also benefitted from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund through the introduction of Okehampton Interchange Station, which is the result of the £15 million West Devon Transport Hub project.

A total of £13.4 million of this financial backing comes from the fund.

I supported West Devon Borough Council’s application for this last year. 

In Government I served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury responsible for UK tax and as Leader of the House of Commons I served as the link between the Commons and the Government including sitting in Cabinet for the first time.

I continue to serve in Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, leading major reforms of our welfare system, making sure that work pays and that benefits are focused on those who need the help the most whilst supporting ever more people away from a reliance on the state alone.

I am proud of what I and this government has achieved.