Ripley & Heanor News Column

As published in the Ripley & Heanor News, 2nd May 2013

We reached the end of the annual Parliamentary session last week, leaving me with more time to focus on constituency matters and to reflect on what we’ve achieved so far. We had some good news on the economy last week, with the announcement that it grew by 0.3% during Q1 2013, ending fears of a triple dip. This, coupled with the confirmation that the deficit has fallen yet further, is very encouraging and shows that our plan is working despite challenges in the Eurozone, US and China.

In their April pay packets, 33,519 of my constituents saw the biggest ever tax cut for a generation thanks to the increase in the personal allowance– this will reach £10,000 next year meaning that basic rate tax payers will be paying £700 each less than in 2010.

Fuel duty has been frozen again, meaning it is 13p cheaper than it would have been under Labour, and we scrapped the beer duty escalator and took a penny off the pint – both are things I campaigned hard for since the start of this parliament.

Encouraging too is the Prime Minister’s achievement of a real terms cut in the EU budget and a commitment to hold a referendum on our continuing membership of the EU should we win the next election.

We’ve also seen our immigration cap working in practice, with net migration down by a third. We’re also reducing immigrants’ entitlements to welfare. It’s right that we look after people who can’t look after themselves, but we simply can’t afford to take care of people who haven’t paid in to the system.

Our welfare reforms have taken us from a situation where people can claim more than the average family earns, to one where work always pays. We now have a record number of people in work, 500,000 new apprenticeships, and over 1.3 million jobs created in the private sector.  And we’re helping businesses recruit new staff by cutting Employers’ National Insurance contributions for up to four staff.

Times are tough, but the situation is getting better. The economy is healing, crime has fallen in Derbyshire by 16% last year, and I’m proud that the Government is helping hard-working families in spite of the difficulties we’re facing.