Derbyshire Times Column

As printed in the Derbyshire Times, 24th April 2014

We’ve seen encouraging news on the economy over recent weeks, when in late March the Chancellor delivered his 2014 Budget, in which he confirmed that that the economy grew by 1.9% last year. Forecasts are now on the up, too – the IMF also confirmed that it expects the economy to grow by 2.9% this year and predicts further strong growth.

The Chancellor announced that the deficit is down by a third, and will be halved by next year. A falling deficit means that we’ve saved £2,000 per year per family on what would have been debt interest payments to creditors.

It is only by sticking to this plan that we can ensure growth, stability and jobs for people here in Amber Valley – and to ensure that we can reward people for doing the right thing.

We cancelled Labour’s planned fuel duty rise and froze fuel duty, which means petrol will be 20p per litre cheaper than under their plans. We also took a penny off the pint of beer and froze wine, cider and spirits duty.

We also learnt last week that unemployment in Amber Valley has fallen to 3%. I’m particularly encouraged by this because on Friday 28th March, I held my second Amber Valley Jobs Fair in Ripley, which attracted over one-thousand constituents looking for opportunities with over forty stallholders. I’m pleased to say that over a hundred constituents found work or training opportunities as a result of the day.

It’s my hope that the unemployment figures continue to fall as a result of the fair and the continuing upturn in the economy. I will of course hold another event in due course.

We’ve seen great news on wages, too – wage growth is now above inflation, which means that hard-working people in Amber Valley will start to feel the benefits of the recovery in their wage packet – in addition to the changes we’ve made to tax.

As of 6th April, the amount which you can earn before you start to pay any tax on your earnings is now £10,000 – that’s a saving of £700 per year for 33,000 of my constituents, and 3,000 taken out of the tax altogether.

But as I’ve written in these columns before, I believe we should go further on letting hard-working people keep more of their own money, and I think we should link the Personal Allowance to the Minimum Wage level – to help me achieve this, you can sign my petition at www.12ktaxfree.co.uk. I was therefore particularly pleased that the Chancellor announced that the allowance will increase to £10,500 next April, saving an additional £100 for basic rate taxpayers and taking more out of the tax.

We also recently announced that the National Minimum Wage would increase to £6.50 from October, which is a real-terms increase of 3%, above the 1.9% rate of inflation. In addition to the tax cuts and other tax changes we’ve implemented, this is great news for the lowest-paid people in my constituency.