A message from Andrew Turner - the Island's MP
Encouraging signs on the UK economy
There have been plenty of signs recently that the UK economy is picking up and rebalancing itself. Between July and September it grew at its fastest pace for three years and GDP figures are ahead of forecasts. These figures and other indicators demonstrate that Britain is now on track to be one of the fasted growing economies in the western world. Recent surveys also demonstrate a welcome boost in consumer and business confidence. That of course is all very good news and shows that years of difficult political decisions are at last beginning to pay off and the recovery has real momentum. Britain is turning a corner but risks remain.
We need to keep our nerve at tackling the deep-seated economic problems and the failures of economic policy over many years. Public spending spiralled out of control, benefits became a lifestyle choice and during the times of plenty no provision was made for the hard times ahead.
Employment is now at a higher level than its pre-recession peak and building on that that will be key to the country's continuing success. We need to keep finding ways to encourage start-ups and the small businesses that will bring prosperity to the Isle of Wight. Around 18 months ago I set up the Isle of Wight Technology Group - companies on the Isle of Wight engaged in high-end manufacturing and electronics. One of their greatest problems is finding people with the right skills to help them grow their businesses - we are working together to find ways to put that right. It will take time - but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We have cut the deficit by a third, keeping interest rates and mortgages low. Net immigration has been cut by more than a third, relieving the pressure on the public services that we all rely on. We have also begun the difficult task of fixing the tax and benefits system - so that it rewards people who are willing to work hard, but provides a safety net for those in genuine need. And businesses have created 1.4 million new jobs and a record number of apprenticeships.
Education is Key!
We now need to ensure that the Island benefits from this new economic environment. One of the biggest problems that could stand in our way is the sorry state of our education system. It is now very clear that the reorganisation of the Island's schools from a three tier to a two tier system was badly botched. We have some great things going on in our schools and some good schools - but they have been badly supported and the uncertainty and upheaval of the reorganisation has led to even greater problems than were there before.
However, the most important thing, both for the young people caught up in the system and for the future economic success of the Island, is to work hard on getting our schools up to scratch. I genuinely believe that this is the biggest challenge facing our Council now, and I am committed to supporting them as they work with the Hampshire and IW School Improvement officer team to make the necessary improvements. The Independent councillor Richard Priest and Conservative Chris Whitehouse are working well together, putting political differences aside for the benefit of the Island's young people. I applaud them both for their hard work.
Can I help You?
I am the only MP for the whole of the Isle of Wight - the largest constituency in the UK. I represent almost 140,000 Island residents and I always do my best to stand up for everyone in our community - regardless of politics. So if you have a problem I can help with, or there is an issue I should take up, or you would like to talk about any aspect of my work as your MP, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
I get out and about round the Island knocking on doors on Saturday mornings and if you would like to find out when I will be in your area do give my office a call.
Of course I also hold my regular Friday afternoon surgeries - where you can make an appointment to come along to discuss any issues that concern you.
If you would like to get in touch or ask me to attend an event you are organising please call me on 530808.
With all good wishes,