Economic renewal and putting the public finances back on track has been the rightful priority for the Coalition Government in its first year. Twelve months ago dark clouds were gathering over Britain's economic position as confidence ebbed away from the Labour Government and their battered financial credibility.
Tough action was required to deal with the unprecedented budget deficit left by the last Government to ensure that this country didn't follow the path of Ireland, Greece or Portugal. The Emergency Budget and stringent new spending plans combined with measures such as the new bank levy to raise around £2.5 billion a year have underlined the Government's resolve and injected confidence.
By freezing council tax, reforming the welfare system so that work always pays, and by lifting 1.1 million of the lowest paid workers out of income tax, the Government has also supported families and those most in need of help at this difficult time. Of course this isn't easy. Not all of the steps taken will be popular. Sometimes they may provoke public disagreements within the Coalition. But these reforms are necessary and in the national interest.
Significant challenges lie ahead. Whilst spending on the NHS has been protected to guarantee real-terms increases each year, healthcare reform is vital to deliver continued improvements. No change is not an option. GP led commissioning locally has already set out proposals for the Queen Mary's Hospital campus to secure the future of our local hospital. We now need to turn this into a reality.