I am optimistic about Britain and disagree with those who think our prospects in the world are simply declining.
But you don’t just have to take my word for it – the Office for National Statistics confirmed last week that the British economy recovered faster from the pandemic than anyone thought and faster than France or Germany as well.
And the prime minister and I are determined to make Britain a global leader in the industries of the future.
As I often write in these columns, we have become Europe’s Silicon Valley with just the third tech economy valued at more than one trillion dollars.
We are also leaders in life sciences with British-discovered vaccines and treatments saving more lives than any other country during the pandemic, as well as in the creative and green industries too.
However, being positive about the UK and our prospects does not mean there is nothing we can improve on. I addressed some of these in my speech at the Conservative Party Conference this week, and will continue to work hard on others as chancellor, including ahead of the Autumn Statement.
Firstly, if we want the tax burden to decrease – which, as a Conservative, I think is right – the Treasury needs to ensure it is planning on how to reduce costs in the long term rather than just controlling costs in the short term.
Civil servants worked incredibly hard to save lives during the pandemic, but we now have 66,000 more than we did before Covid struck. I therefore announced a freeze to the expansion of the civil service, which will save £1billion next year.
I am proud to live in a country where, as Churchill said, there’s a ladder anyone can climb but a safety net below which no one falls.
But we have 100,000 people leaving work each year so we need improve the support we give people to stay in work. It is also not fair that someone who refuses to look for a job is paid the same as someone trying their best.
To ensure it always pays to work, I announced the national living wage will be raised to at least £11 an hour, which will be a pay rise for two million of the lowest-paid workers and more than £9,000 per year higher than it was in 2010.
Most of all we need to stick to the plan to ensure inflation decreases further, as that is currently one of the biggest burdens on family finances – though it is good that it has already come down 40 per cent from its peak.
I usually avoid party politics in this column, but can I break the rule just this once?
I profoundly believe that only the Conservatives are prepared to take the difficult decisions to make us prosperous in the long term. And under Rishi Sunak’s leadership, that is what we will get.