Speech

Free schools announcement: David Cameron's speech

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister spoke at the Green School, Isleworth on jobs, money, homes, schools and savings and announced 49 new free schools.

Introduction

For the last 5 years this government has been working through a long-term economic plan to turn Britain around. That plan is working.

You can see it in the economic figures, with growth up, the deficit halved and new industries thriving.

But statistics don’t pay the bills and government graphs don’t buy school uniforms. Plans and policies only work if they actually help families.

That’s why my number 1 goal is to turn this long-term economic plan into a plan for you. I don’t just want people to hear about Britain’s economic success on the news or see it in the papers. I want them to feel it in their lives. And that is beginning to happen.

You can see it in your payslip – with taxes cut and wages rising, at the till – with inflation at a record low, at the pump – with fuel duty frozen and in your savings – with more control over your own money.

But for some families, those old questions still swirl around:

  • Is my job safe?
  • Can we afford to get by?
  • Will we be able to buy a home?
  • Can we afford childcare?
  • Are our children going to have the skills they need?
  • Will our earnings and our savings see us through?

It all comes back to security – that’s what matters to families more than anything. That’s why next week’s Budget is built for, designed around and centred on Britain’s families.

For the mum who is up and out the door before 6am. The dad who gets home from work when everyone is fast asleep. The children who are hoping for a holiday at the seaside this year. We want families like this to feel secure.

As you build a life together you want that life to feel solid – built to last. And for me there are 5 foundation stones that families’ security is built on: jobs, money, homes, schools and savings.

Let me take each in turn.

Jobs

The cornerstone of families’ security is work. Everything rests on whether parents are bringing home a pay packet.

Today there are 1.85 million more people in work than there were in 2010. That hasn’t just changed 1.85 million lives.

It’s changed the lives of all those children who see their mum or dad going off to work with pride each morning, and of all those parents who can sleep a little easier knowing they have a steady income coming in.

For every single day we’ve been in office, 1,000 people have read those vital words: “Offer of employment”.

Of course, there are doubters.

They doubt that the jobs we’re creating are sufficient to support families but over the last year, three-quarters of new jobs were full time.

They doubt that they’re being created outside London but last year jobs were created fastest not in the South East but the North East.

They doubt that they’re decent jobs, but jobs are being created in industries of the future – with 1 million roles being advertised last year in the digital technology sector alone.

They doubt all this will help young people but in the last year we had a bigger rise in youth employment than the rest of the EU combined.

The doubters are wrong; our plan is right – and it’s giving families the security they need.

After 5 years, we have seen more people in work than at any point in British history.

So our ambitions for the future are unashamedly high. We won’t just go for more employment; we’ll go for full employment: a job for everyone who wants one.

And there’s only one genuine way to do that. It’s the same way we helped create all these jobs.

And that’s by backing business helping them to grow, expand, take on new staff – and yes, take on apprentices. We’ve already created 2 million [Political content removed].

Why will we do all this? Because businesses create jobs and a job is the first – and the most important – foundation stone in building a family’s security.

Money

The second foundation stone for families’ security is having more money in their pockets.

For too long, family budgets seemed to be under attack from every angle.

Parents felt hammered at the till, ripped off at the petrol pump and clobbered by the taxman.

The gas, water and electric; the car insurance and home insurance the road tax, council tax, phone bill, food bill, mortgage. It felt like an endless assault on family finances – and families were left with a feeling we all dread: insecurity.

Our goal in government is to ease that burden so families don’t just get by in life; they can get on in life – and do all the things they want to do.

That starts with something simple: keeping more of the money you earn.

Thanks to our income tax cuts, there are 26 million people saving an average of £825 a year in tax from April.

Think about that: parents with potentially an extra £1,600 in the kitty looking to the summer and thinking “yes, we can book that holiday”, or looking to Christmas without the same fear of the cost.

Then there’s the fuel duty freeze – saving the average motorist at least £135 a year. The married tax allowance – saving couples up to £212 a year. The fact that wages are rising and inflation is low.

All this has happened because of the difficult decisions we’ve taken on our economy.

One of families’ biggest outgoings – and therefore biggest worries – is the cost of childcare.

Most spend, on average, over a quarter of their income on childcare. That’s right – more than a quarter of what they’ve got coming in going straight back out. This is not just an issue for women or parents. It’s a national issue.

So we’ve acted, increasing the number of free childcare hours for 3- and 4-year-olds, introducing 15 free hours for the 40% most disadvantaged 2-year-olds and in the next Parliament perhaps the most transformative change to childcare in decades – making it tax free, saving up to £2,000 per child, per year.

More money in parents’ pockets. Less worry for families. That’s what our long-term economic plan is delivering – security for all.

Homes

The third foundation stone is a home of your own.

Your home is the ultimate symbol of security. It’s a place of stability, protecting your family – a place to feel safe, to make memories together. Too many people have been denied that security.

I think of all the people in their 20s and 30s still living with their parents, desperately saving for their own place, the couple who want a child but can’t afford to upsize, the families stuck in the renting rut, never able to properly settle down.

We’re turning this around, meeting every barrier to home ownership with a solution.

Problem 1 was that mortgage rates were high. By cutting the deficit, we’re keeping them low.

If you compare what people are paying now to what they would have paid with interest rates at 2010 levels, they are saving £155 a month.

Problem 2 is that many could afford mortgage repayments but not the initial deposit.

That pushed up the average age of a first-time buyer, without parents’ help, to 37 – an absolute scandal in this, the country of the property-owning democracy.

So we brought in Help to Buy – to help with those deposits. And thanks to that scheme, 88,000 more people have crossed the threshold of their home – 88,000 people who have bricks and mortar to call their own.

Problem 3 was that there weren’t enough homes for people to buy.

House building fell every decade after the 60s and after the great recession, the tumbleweed rolled across deserted building sites.

So we’ve released more government land and we’re lending money to get builders building. We’ve reformed planning to make it easier to get permission and in the last year alone, work was started on 140,000 new homes.

And we will go further with 2 new garden cities – in Ebbsfleet and Bicester and with 200,000 Starter Homes – discounted new-builds for first-time buyers under 40, so more children have a bedroom to call their own, more parents can finally decorate their living room as they want it and more families have stability and security – a place to make memories and build their lives together.

Schools

The fourth foundation stone may be the most crucial for families – and that’s education.

The schools they go to, the skills they get – they’re your child’s ticket to success.

In the past, our education system has failed too many children. We are turning that around.

We’ve spent £5 billion on new school places. We’ve got discipline back in the classroom. We’ve got high standards back on the curriculum. We are making sure more pupils take traditional, academic subjects.

But the biggest change we’ve made – something that is radically changing the way education is delivered – is opening 4,200 academies and 255 free schools.

Sponsored academies are failing schools taken over by independent sponsors – many of them successful academy chains, like Harris, with a track record of turning schools around.

Converter academies are successful schools that have chosen to benefit from the freedom from local authority control, taking full control of their budget and making the decisions that matter.

Free Schools are brand new schools, set up by groups of parents, or charities, or teachers, or bodies, including other schools, that have a passion for delivering great education.

All of them are creating more good school places for our children. What these schools have achieved is, frankly, remarkable. They’re more likely to be good or outstanding.

In fact, free schools are twice as likely to be judged ‘outstanding’ as other schools inspected at the same time. And, remember, they’ve only been going for a couple of years at most.

As Policy Exchange said this week, free schools don’t just raise the performance of their own pupils – they raise standards in surrounding schools in the area too.

Academies are more likely to improve their results at GCSE.

And today, 1 million more children across the country are in schools that the inspectors – Ofsted – say are “good” or “outstanding”.

We’re declaring war on illiteracy and innumeracy too, so no child leaves school unable to read or write.

We’re going to make Britain – the country of Alan Turing, of Stephen Hawking – the best place in the world to learn maths, science and computing.

And yes – we’re going to dramatically expand the free schools programme.

Today I’m announcing 49 new ones.

New schools like:

  • the Boxing Academy in Hackney – based on discipline and teamwork
  • the Green School for Boys here in Isleworth – part of the same trust as this brilliant girls’ school
  • Floreat Education’s latest schools in Southall and Alperton in London – which focus on character as well as academia

We’ve got Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish ethos schools opening up schools that extend the school day, schools that will benefit from the expertise of Sunderland FC and Microsoft schools that cater for those with special needs, armed forces families, children who have been excluded.

They’re going to provide thousands of good school places for children the length and breadth of the country.

And they’re all part of this – the most successful schools programme in recent British history.

Savings

The fifth and final foundation for families’ security is this: savings.

Everyone who pays into a savings account, who pays into a pension, who goes to the bank to top up their ISA, is doing it for the same reason: security.

So if they hit hard times, they’ve got something to fall back on, so when they get older, they’ve got something extra to get by on.

For too long, we’ve had a system that punished that prudence.

People would be unfairly taxed for drawing down their private pension. Their pension pot would be taxed far too much when they died. That was completely wrong.

So we are introducing a new culture of saving. Over-55s will have access to their pension pots 4 weeks from today.

The punitive tax on passing your pension on – it’s gone.

It’s easier to switch bank accounts to get a better rate. You can put not just £5,000 a year in a cash ISA but £15,000. And our Pensioner Bonds are yielding a rate of 4 per cent.

All this is sending out the clearest message to families: If you’re thinking of your future security – we’re right behind you.

Conclusion

My motto in life is “family first”. I apply it to my own life and to my politics.

At their best, families are resilient – tight-knit units which can weather anything. And if you doubt it, just think of what your family has gone through over the years and how you’ve come through it together.

But at the same time families are vulnerable – vulnerable to shocks, vulnerable to financial pressure. Job losses or money worries can tear them apart.

I believe financial security for families is one of government’s foremost duties.

It’s what I’m in politics to deliver – a better life for you and your children. Every time I champion an economic success, it’s because it’s been a success for families.

When I celebrate the reopening of a brick factory, it’s not because I love bricks: it’s because I love to see all those staff doing their jobs with pride, knowing they’re going home to their families with a wage.

Every time I celebrate the opening of a free school, it’s not because I love cutting ribbons or taking selfies with the students – it’s because I’m so glad, so relieved that more parents can, like me, share the peace of mind you feel when your child is getting a great education.

Every single part of this has only been possible because we got a grip on our economy.

If we hadn’t got our finances in order there would have been no tax cuts, no new school places, no help for savers, no Help to Buy – no record job creation.

In other words, families’ security is dependent on a strong economy. Say goodbye to economic stability – and you say goodbye to your family’s security.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to stick to our long-term economic plan.

That’s what next week’s Budget is all about.

And that’s what I am determined to deliver.