2 Jan 2012

‘Difficult’ challenges ahead for UK, warns Cameron

Britain faces a difficult year in 2012, says the prime minister in his new year’s message – but he pledges the coalition government will do “everything it takes” to get the country up to strength.

The prime minister acknowledged that people are worried about jobs and paying bills, but he said the country would get through “these trying times”.

He looked forward to a year in which “the world sees Britain” through the diamond jubilee and the Olympic Games.

“It gives us an extraordinary incentive to look outward, look onwards and to look our best: to feel pride in who we are and what… we can achieve,” he said.

In a message that tempered a celebration of what “this fantastic country” had to offer with recognition that the UK was likely to be affected by further economic storms in the coming months, Mr Cameron identified roads, railways, super-fast broadband and the building of new homes as measures “to bring our economy back to health”.

There are fears about jobs and paying the bills. The search for work has become difficult, particularly for young people. David Cameron

He said he would clamp down on excess in the City to prevent “a few at the top” getting rewards “that seem to have nothing to do with the risks they take or the effort they put in”.

The government would also change the public services “system” to make sure schools were up to scratch, hospitals were clean, and police caught criminals.

“Brilliant and committed people work in public services,” the prime minister said, “but somehow the system stops them doing their job. So we’ll change it.”

In addition to British universities, scientists, TV, culture, athletes and armed forces – all of which enjoyed international renown – Mr Cameron cited Queen Elizabeth, in the 60th year of her reign, as the embodiment of “British dedication, British duty, British steadiness, British tradition”.

Mr Cameron’s new year message echoes those of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, both of which acknowledged challenging times in the recent past and in the future.