Pudsey general election Conservative Party candidate Stuart Andrew answers readers’ questions ahead of the election. A full list of candidates and their responses can be found here.
1. What is your party going to do to make sure my kids have good educational opportunities?
The Conservative Party’s approach to securing good education opportunities is to ensure that all pupils have access to the best education possible without being restricted by factors such as family income, where you live and what school you attended.
While there are more good and outstanding schools than ever before, for many a good school remains out of reach. We need to make sure that every child has access to the best opportunities in the world by first providing them with the best possible education.
That is why we will continue ensuring there is a fairer distribution of school funding across the country, but crucially we will increase education funding by £4 billion to ensure that no school will face a reduction in their budget.
We will ensure that all children have access to an academic and knowledge-rich curriculum, that strengthens the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years so that all pupils, regardless of their background, get the best possible start to life.
We will also make sure we attract the best teachers, and therefore to encourage teacher recruitment and retention, we will pay off the student loans owed by teachers for as long as they remain in the state school system.
We will also provide greater help for teachers in preparation of lessons and marking, and curb unnecessary paperwork and the burden of Ofsted inspections to ensure that pupils are being given the time, attention and opportunities they deserve.
2. What is your stance on the three million EU citizens living in the UK?
My stance has always been clear that securing the rights and entitlements enjoyed by those already living in Britain is a crucial part of the upcoming negotiations with the European Union, and I was very pleased to see this included as a manifesto pledge.
We have already made attempts to secure these rights, however other Member States of the European Union did not wish to discuss these rights until the negotiations had formally started.
With Theresa May as our leader, we can be sure that during these negotiations, we have a Prime Minister who is bold enough to fight for the European nationals living here, and for the British nationals living in Europe.
3. What would you do to support Social Care in our area, particularly foster care, in a climate of cuts that are seeing fewer workers caring for more children?
Social care provisions are provided by local councils, and the increased demand for is due to the needs of adult social care consuming a large amount of the social care budget.
We have already taken immediate action, putting £2 billion into the social care system and allowing councils to raise more money themselves from Council Tax.
In addition, I know local authorities are supported in recruiting and retaining foster carers, to ensure there are a range of placement options available to meet the needs of all looked-after children.
Local authorities and their partners have received investment to address the remaining issues in recruiting foster carers, and to develop innovative approaches to recruitment and retention. I am very pleased by the efforts of Leeds City Council in making a Child Friendly Leeds and I will continue to work closely with the Council to improve and promote foster care in our area.
4. What will you do to give young people the very best opportunities in life, to help them prepare for uncertain futures in a global world economy?
Our global world economy is fast-paced, with modern technology changing the skills we need in the modern day compared to the world many of us remember.
The Conservative Party’s modern industrial strategy will help young people to develop the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future. We want to ensure that technical education is valued as highly as academic success, to make sure the opportunities for young people are broad and varied, and up to date with the needs of our global economy.
We already have a world-leading higher education system, and we want to make sure that technical education can be of the same standard.
By improving the standard of subjects such as construction, design, digital, engineering, health and science, we can make sure young people have the broadest range of career paths possible to help prepare them for the future.
We also want to help workers stay in secure jobs as the global economy changes by introducing a national retraining scheme, with the costs of training as the economy changes funding by the Government. We will also target support at young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are unemployed, and create 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020.
If we are going to keep our economy strong as the world changes, we will need the Government to play an active role. With the Conservative Party leading the way with a modern industrial strategy, we can make the most of Britain’s strengths, take advantage of new opportunities and attract investment – bringing secure, well-paid jobs to the whole of the country.
5. When do candidates see austerity coming to an end and living standards and security improving?
As individuals, it is important that we live within our means, otherwise we will find ourselves in substantial personal debt which we will have to repay at some point in the future. The same applies to our country.
That is why the Conservatives have worked very hard to reduce the deficit from the £150 billion we inherited from Labour to the £50 billion it is now.
There is still a long way to go, but by strengthening the economy and lowering Corporation Tax to 17 per cent, we can attract significant business investment in this country, which will create the jobs we all need.
Increasing the amount of jobs available does not only mean improving living standards for us all, but it also means more tax income for the Government, which can be spent on our struggling public services.
The solution to improving living standards and security is a strong economy, which only a Conservative Government can deliver.
In the meantime, I am very pleased that the Conservative Party manifesto has pledged to be the party of lower taxes. This includes maintaining our promise to lift 30 million workers out of income tax liability altogether by raising the personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020, and we will also increase the higher rate to £50,000 by 2020.
I am also proud to be part of the party that introduced the National Living Wage, which means that workers across the UK now receive a minimum of £7.50 an hour.
We will continue our promise to increase this amount to 60 per cent of median earnings by 2020 and then by the rate of median earnings. This will mean that those who are on the lowest pay will benefit from the same increases in earnings as those who are paid a higher wage.
In 200 words or less, tell us why readers should vote for you/your party?
Over the last seven years, it has been a great privilege to serve the Pudsey constituency. If re-elected, I will continue to work my hardest on behalf of all my constituents.
This election is crucial as we need to ensure that the EU negotiations are led by a Prime Minister who has the backbone to fight hard for us all. Only Theresa May offers such leadership.
We also need to ensure our economy remains successful by tackling the budget deficit. A strong economy encourages investment, creates jobs, and funds our crucial public services.
Locally, I am determined to protect our greenbelt from Labour’s Leeds Council’s ridiculous housing target. The Greenbelt is precious and we need to preserve it for future generations.
Transport is something I have also campaigned hard on and I was pleased to help secure £172million to invest in tackling our congested roads.
Voting for the Conservative Party will help to ensure we get the best possible deal with the European Union, secure a strong economy and a MP who will continue to fight hard for your area.
Please vote Stuart Andrew on June 8th.