There have been a number of excellent and informed speeches today by Conservative Members and I am very pleased to follow my hon. Friend Craig Mackinlay.
Owing to the economic policies of the Conservatives, we have seen our national economy and the economy in Stoke-on-Trent South prosper. Nationally, the International Monetary Fund has upgraded the growth forecast to 2% from 1.5% and we have got Labour’s crippling deficit under control, having cut it by two thirds. However, we must complete the job to get our finances fully back on track. Labour’s plans would only lead to the deficit doubling. Labour would spend more than our constituents can afford and re-inflict the misery of its financial crisis on our constituents.
We must continue to build on the recovery of our economy by creating jobs and opportunities for the people of my constituency and by helping businesses to create better quality jobs. We have already seen 3 million more jobs nationally, many of them in areas like Stoke-on-Trent. An all-time record 32 million people are now in work nationally. That was never seen in Stoke-on-Trent under Labour. We had years of Labour Members and Labour Governments being elected to this place, and what did we see for it? Nothing—only more debt, more people unemployed and more people subjected to years of misery.
The Conservatives believe in aspiration and the ability of individuals to achieve and prosper. We help those who are just about getting on and we provide the support they need to achieve. What we are seeing in Stoke-on-Trent South is that the Conservatives are starting to address the legacy of decline left by Labour. We Conservatives have been helping businesses and making work pay. That has been key to our economic recovery in Stoke-on-Trent, as it has been nationally. Rather than leaving people dependent on benefits, as Labour did for so many years, an increasing number of people are in jobs. There is growing employment and prosperity.
Instead of a life on benefits, there is now a living wage, which is improving people’s quality of life. The national minimum wage has been increased from £5.93 in 2010 to £7.50 today. That is a 26% increase. That change to the minimum wage has added £3,200 per year to the gross wages of someone in full-time work on the minimum wage since 2010. At the same time, the top 1% pay 28% of all income tax—more than was ever seen under Labour—and income inequality is at a 30-year low. That has incentivised more people to get into work and stay in work. No longer are people better off out of work and on benefits than in work. That, in turn, is reducing the pressures on our national welfare bill and helping to get our deficit under control.
The median tax bill in Stoke-on-Trent South fell from £2,000 to £1,520 between 2011 and 2015. That means that, on average, workers have more than £500 more in their pockets than when Labour was in power.