Last week the Conservative Party was in town for our annual Party Conference. Whilst many left with sore heads after reunions and late night receptions there is also a serious element to party conferences where policy and its impact will be discussed in fringe meetings often with charities and those with lived experience.
My visit to conference included meeting several charities and companies to discuss their work within Bury & Greater Manchester, squeezing in a ministerial visit with Guy Opperman MP and speaking at several sessions on drug and alcohol addiction, creating a Fur Free Britain through my campaign to ban fur imports, speaking alongside Labour MP Barry Gardiner on Stopping Fire and Rehire. And of course, plenty of discussion on levelling up, what it means, where it’s needed, and how it should be delivered.
In the conference hall we heard from the new Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi who outlined plans for greater investment into teacher training, to develop 500,000 new training opportunities. More money promised for early years teaching as well over 2 million extra post-16 college courses as part of the discussion on skills, training, and education.
But perhaps more importantly, in my role as the Chairman of the APPG on Literacy is the greater work being done to get literacy specialists into schools to reach 50,000 pupils who need help learning to read. Whilst there are £6 million packages of support for tutoring in schools as we recover from Covid, we also need to look more holistically at the mental health of our children to make sure that they are in the right mindset to learn.
Last week I was fortunate to speak to one of the employers looking to recruit young people in Prestwich through the Government’s Kickstart scheme. Therefore, I was pleased to see the Chancellor highlighting, in his plan for jobs, the expansion the Kickstart program, which is helping so many of our young people into employment.
There is also to be £500 million invested to expand job support schemes to get more people into good and meaningful employment. He was also very frank that recovery comes with a cost, as national debt approaches 100% of GDP, but he was clear in his determination that Britain should be a high earning, high skilled and ambitious nation.
Finally ignoring the quips at his own slogans of Build Back Burger and Build Back Beaver, the Prime Minister highlighted the areas where he believes levelling up is needed. Like tackling crime to ensure people feel safe walking home from work, improving infrastructure so that businesses and families can access to high-speed internet and ensuring that we have the skills and training for the technical jobs of the future.
Leaving conference, we have greater clarity as to what levelling up will mean for us here in Radcliffe, Whitefield, and Prestwich. It can only mean a brighter future for our children, where their life chances are improved and their communities see the investment they need to make them fit for the 21st century.