We're backing businesses to build a stronger and more competitive Britain that delivers for people. Small businesses are increasingly central to our economy and we're helping them grow and take on more staff by cutting the jobs tax and red tape, as well as giving them access to finance, for example through "Start Up" loans.
It's no coincidence there are now 760,000 more private sector- businesses than in 2010 and 2.3 million additional private sector jobs since the election – that's five for every one lost in the public sector. And on top of that I feel particularly strongly about the 2.2 million new apprenticeships, with a commitment for 3 million more high quality apprenticeships in the next Parliament.
Our business-supporting policies have helped the U.K. come second in a KPMG survey in 2014 for the best county to do business in. But our goal is to make the U.K. the best place in the world to start and grow a business, helping even more people enjoying the security of a regular pay packet. We're on track to achieve that. I don't want to see it put at risk.
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The answer to a financial crisis is not to try to borrow and tax your way out of trouble, which is the mistake Labour made – and they'd do it again. We need only look to the last Government, when they departed from our spending plans and drove our economy into ruin. Who were the architects of this negligence? Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, who were advising Gordon Brown in the Treasury at the time.
One of the Conservative Party's priorities has been to cut the deficit to ensure we can deal with our debts. We've kept mortgage rates low by not increasing borrowing – helping families pay their bills during these difficult times. And by sticking to our plan, we're predicted to achieve an absolute surplus by 2018/19.
Only with a strong economy can we invest in vital public services – our schools, our transport infrastructure, our NHS. We need a strong economy to grow businesses, to create jobs, to encourage enterprise – to compete in the global race. A strong economy means job security for those people, incomes rising for their families, being able to plan their future safe in the knowledge that the economy is secure and resilient to the instability and volatility across Europe.
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But all the progress we have achieved is at risk. We face a deeply unstable Ed Miliband minority government, propped up by the SNP, which some of the largest participants in global financial markets say would mean a dangerous cocktail of higher mortgage rates, higher tax rates and more borrowing. In short, economic chaos, and working people will pay the price. There's only one way to stop this happening: Vote Conservative on May 7.
Matthew Hancock is U.K. Business Minister and Conservative candidate for the West Suffolk constituency.