IN January the Prime Minister outlined five key priorities for the year.

These are by no means the only priorities for the government – I recently wrote an article about how the UK is providing an extra £2.3 billion of military support to Ukraine for example.

But these are five of the most important domestic issues facing our country and the Prime Minister was right to make each a priority. They are:

1. halving inflation this year to ease the cost of living, 

2. growing the economy to create better-paid jobs and opportunities, 

3. reducing debt so that we can secure the future of public services, 

4. cutting waiting lists so people get the care they need more quickly,

5. introducing new legislation to tackle illegal immigration across the Channel.

Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has pushed up global energy, fuel and food prices and the Prime Minister is right to make the goal of halving inflation this year his most important.

It is the biggest issue affecting families on a day-to-day basis and the most common issue raised with me when I visit local businesses.

Inflation is also having a major impact on the treasury.

For example, when I took the decision as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to uprate the new state pension by inflation for this financial year (taking it above £10,000 a year for the first time) I did so to support pensioners who cannot increase their monthly income to battle higher prices. But it obviously came at a significant cost to the public purse.

By taking difficult decisions (such as getting the balance right between boosting public sector pay but not increasing it so much that it then fuels inflation further), progress is being made.

At the end of 2022, inflation was running at 10.7 per cent but by July it had fallen to 6.8 per cent. I am confident that the target of halving inflation or less by the end of the year will be met.

To touch briefly on the other four priorities, economic growth has been impacted by inflationary pressures but we are at least still heading in the right direction.

The UK economy has grown in each of the last three quarters and is predicted to grow for the rest of the year. By comparison, Germany has been in recession for the last three quarters and is predicted to remain in recession for the rest of 2023.

Debt will start to fall only as we get on top of inflation and stronger economic growth returns, and a recent article I wrote on waiting lists can be found on my website.

New legislation to tackle illegal immigration across the Channel was introduced in March.

Its key focus is deterring people from making the perilous and illegal journey in the first place. Early signs are encouraging with crossings down by a fifth compared to the same time last year.

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