From Michelle Donelan <[email protected]>
Subject Only 8 days till the election
Date December 4, 2019 6:39 AM
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** Eight days till the election

I voted remain but I believe in democracy. I have consistently voted for Brexit since the referendum. We need to give business the certainty to invest in the UK and get back to focussing on schools, hospitals, the environment and tackling crime.

The PM's deal allows us to leave the EU and maintain a strong working relationship. Labour want to call another referendum which would take up to a year and crippling business meaning job losses. The Liberals want to revoke and have said this would be their position even if they held their second referendum and leave won again.


For years I have campaigned to improve our education system for our constituency and for the country as a whole. From primary school to further education, a transparent, ambitious and deliverable system is the only way to ensure we raise the next generation with the educational standards we expect and the standards which provide them with the tools to build their own life and pave their own way in this world.

I have served in the Education Select Committee but more recently I have been proud to serve as Minister for Children and Families through which I am able to work towards making the necessary changes I believe will enhance our education system. This includes delivering on alternative subjects for schools like T-Levels, a series of technical qualifications to recognise the importance of other skillsets which are equally important and should be equally valued.

Campaigning for more money for our schools has been a long term goal which I began before I became a Member of Parliament and so to be part of the £14 billion extra investment in our schools is a privilege. This translates to a minimum of £5,000 per pupil for each secondary schools and a minimum £3,750 for each primary school, rising to £4,000 in 2021-22. I consider this an incredible win for our schools which I have been visiting on a weekly basis for the last few years, running democracy workshops and raising awareness on important issues like plastic pollution. The next generation is the future and we should never take for granted how important their education is.

We also have to recognise how vital it is to support those with special education needs and disability (SEND) and whilst it is brilliant news that SEND funding will rise by 8.2% per head up to £51.3 million for Wiltshire, I have long been sceptical of the one “centre of excellence” solution. This would see St Nicholas school in Chippenham close to make way for one large school on the Rowdeford site which is something I have long opposed and campaigned against with my colleague Andrew Murrison and I am clear that Wiltshire Council must listen to parents and local voices in their decision making.


Here in the South West I am pleased to say we have the highest employment rate of any region in the UK which is vital when it comes to securing a stable future for ourselves and for our families. A strong economy is the best way a government can raise the funds to invest in our essential and precious public services and the economic growth we have overseen allows us to expand on areas like education which I passionate about.

Since 2010 we have helped over 3.4 million more people into work and reduced the number of people who are unemployed by over 1.1 million. Most encouraging of all is that the annual jobs growth is driven almost entirely by full time work and in marked contrast to several European countries, we have reduced youth unemployment since 2010 so that are economy provides security for our whole society.

I have long been a champion of our high streets and voicing how significant their contribution is to the economy and to local communities which is why I ensured my first ever PMQ asked the Prime Minister what more we can do to support market towns like Chippenham, Melksham, Bradford on Avon and Corsham. I am therefore thrilled that the Conservative Party will be cutting business rates for small retailers and social hubs like pubs and cinemas by increasing their business rate discount from 33% to 50% to make our high streets sustainable and prosperous.

In Melksham I recently ran a Money Matters event to bring together organisations like HMRC, The Pensions Advisory Service, Hope Debt Advice and The Money Charity so constituents could access professional advice on everything from tax to pensions to day-to-day financial planning. I personally found it incredibly useful in terms of future financial planning and I know those that attended took similar advantage of the experts present.

I think it can actually be extremely useful to talk to people face-to-face on these sorts of issues rather than over the phone because it makes the experience more personal and I want to organise further events that benefit local residents in this way and help us manage our money with great tips and advice.

Nationally, we have a record 32 million people in work who are keeping more of what they earn as a result of the brilliant Conservative Party policy on raising the personal tax allowance, which means the typical basic rate taxpayer now pays £1,205 less tax than in 2010 with the number of people taken out of income tax since 2015-16 having risen to 1.74 million. This means more take home pay and more money in your pocket to spend and by making economic growth cleaner and greener, the UK will move into the 2020s with a low carbon and healthy national economy which will mean so much for our own, vibrant local economy.


Ensuring that everyone in the constituency has fast internet and mobile signal is important- it can impact upon local businesses and jobs plus lives. I am determined to make sure that our rural communities have the same speed and signal as any other part of the country. My campaign started by looking at what could be done with existing operators and I put a number of suggestions forward to the Prime Minister. The PM has listed and announced £1billion of government funding to give high quality 4G signal coverage to at least 95% of the UK in the next five years – effectively banishing rural signal issues.

Building on this success, I ran a local survey on mobile signal and broadband speed to lobby providers to ensure that we get villages and towns in Wiltshire the upgrades they need. I also obtained a full fibre broadband speed upgrade for hundreds of residents in Melksham, due to be installed in time for Christmas. George Ward Gardens is a large, 64-property housing development in Melksham and was not due to have a broadband upgrade until July 2020, which would have left residents struggling with slow internet speeds in the meantime and even then, there were concerns about how many houses would benefit from the upgrade.

On hearing about this, I brought together Persimmon and Openreach to work on a newer, faster plan that would ensure not only that all residents of George Ward Gardens get the upgrade, but that it is upgraded immediately. Openreach have now agreed to install a full fibre network in the development next month – representing the largest infrastructure upgrade for local residents in years.

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