The Party Conference season is behind us and it’s back to usual hours in Parliament for what promises to be an extraordinary few weeks as the Government reaches a crucial point in the Brexit negotiations.
The break gave all of us a chance to take stock and reflect before the next phase of debate and challenge. Conservative Party Conference was as optimistic as I can remember it being for years, with the key theme being, as the Prime Minister succinctly put it, when we come together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.
And the best achievement in recent times? Austerity will soon be at an end.
It’s ten years since the financial crash sent the economy and many businesses reeling. The after-effects have been huge and have affected us all, no matter who we are or what we do.
In the run up to the 2010 General Election the Conservatives set out that there would be a period of austerity to enable the UK to retrench, control the deficit and help the country avoid bankruptcy. It would be tough from 2010 to 2015 – but it would be tougher from 2015 onwards.
At the Conservative Conference in Birmingham last week the Prime Minister said these sacrifices, made by so many people, have paid off. The deficit is down and better days are ahead. We have avoided a Greek-style financial collapse and started to reduce debt as a proportion of GDP. Most of all we have done all this whilst delivering record employment in the British economy.
Public sector workers have borne the brunt of the public sector efficiency drive. This has meant councils, police and hospitals have had to look at and consider the deployment of every pound, and make sure it is spent wisely and without duplication and waste. It has been a hard time but I know many authorities have shown what they can do with the resources they have.
So now, as the Chancellor looks to the Comprehensive Spending Review next year, our economy is set to grow further, our productivity to continue to rise, and the effects of our debt to decrease. This should mean less money having to be spent on debt repayments and more available for schools, hospitals, the police and other key services. Light is pouring in at the end of the tunnel.