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Welcome to my latest newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and around Amber Valley. This is a special version of my newsletter to provide you with a summary of the Chancellor’s recent Budget and to provide updates on concerns regarding Covid-19 and local changes to Alfreton and Langley Mill train services.
Following yesterday’s budget, I wanted to share with you some of the announcements which I believe to be of particular interest to the residents of Amber Valley, and some of my personal budget highlights. As I am sure many are aware, this was the first budget outside of the EU and allows us to take control of money that would otherwise have been sent to Brussels, amounting to £14.6 billion by 2024/4.
It’s a budget that delivers on our promises and manifesto commitments to the British people; showing that this Conservative government, above all else, gets things done.
The Chancellor started his Budget announcements by setting out the government’s new coronavirus strategy to alleviate the economic impact of the outbreak. He assured that the NHS will be getting “whatever extra resources” it needs to cope with coronavirus, with a response fund totalling £5 billion. There will be a £500 million hardship fund made available to help vulnerable people in the aftermath of the outbreak, small businesses will be able to access interruption loans to alleviate any coronavirus related issues within their businesses, and firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for up to two weeks. I know this will be welcomed news to small businesses in Amber Valley, some of whom have already shared their concerns surrounding coronavirus with me and the potential impact that it may have on their business and wellbeing.
It is of the utmost importance to myself and the government that hardworking people are rewarded, and that this Budget supports a fair and sustainable tax system that helps people with the cost of living. The National Insurance threshold will be increased from £8,632 to £9,500 in four weeks’ time; a tax cut for 31 million people, saving a typical employee over £100.
The business rates discount for pubs will be increased £5,000, and the planned rise in beer duty will also be cancelled. This will ensure that pubs continue to play a vital role in community life, and is something I know is a priority for many of my constituents. For only the second time in almost twenty years, every single one of our alcohol duties have been frozen, with the Chancellor announcing spirits, cider and wine duty freezes alongside beer.
Another priority for my constituents is the need to protect the environment, and I am pleased that the Chancellor has taken steps to ensure this Budget is the greenest yet. Taxes on pollution will be increased. From April 2022, the levy on electricity will be frozen and will be raised on gas. To tackle the problem of plastic waste, the government will be introducing a Plastics Packaging Tax, increasing the use of recycled plastic in packaging by 40% – equal to carbon savings of nearly 200,000 tonnes.
We can now spend the billions of pounds we would have sent to the EU on our own priorities, of which I know the NHS is a priority for everyone. £6 billion of new funding was announced to support the NHS, which translates to 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP surgery appointments. Migrants benefit from the NHS, but it is only right that what people get out, they also put in – as we promised in our manifesto, the Immigration Health Surcharge will be increased to £624, with a discounted rate for children.
There is more money being spent on our roads – a £500 million per year pothole fund will be very welcome across the east midlands, and there is more money being spent on rail, including further investment in the Access for All railway improvements, which will hopefully finally deliver the step-free access that is desperately needed at Alfreton station.
Whilst the Chancellor touched on the need to build more homes and announced a £400 million investment allowing homes to be built on Brownfield sites, I do hope this funding can stretch to Amber Valley as there are two sites in my constituency which are in desperate need of redevelopment. There was also £50m more for Access to All schemes – there is no reason now for the improvements at Alfreton station to be delayed any longer.
Overall this is a remarkable budget in the face of the potentially significant Coronavirus challenge, demonstrating the clear end to austerity, investing in our public services and providing the capital investment in infrastructure improvement the country needs.
Many constituents have contacted me to express concern over the current situation related to, and the potential risk posed by, coronavirus in the UK. I fully appreciate concerns over this issue and, as shown by the measures in the Budget above, this Government and Parliament are taking the situation very seriously. This issue is getting full attention but we need to balance effective prevention measures against the still relatively small number of cases.
As I’m sure you’ve seen on the news, the main advice at the moment is to regularly wash your hands and, if you have any of the symptoms of the virus (a fever, a cough or shortness of breath) to immediately isolate yourself and call the NHS on 111. You can find the latest NHS guidance here.
Similarly, if you’re scheduled to be travelling into or out of the country over the next few months and have concerns over your trip, you can find the latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice here.
East Midlands Railway proposed local rail changes:
Late last year the new operator of the East Midlands rail franchise, East Midlands Railway (EMR), announced a consultation on the removal of remaining the direct services from Alfreton and Langley Mill to London St Pancras. Under the current timetable, there is one daily direct service to London from these stations each morning and two direct return services each evening. Under the proposals by EMR these 3 direct services will be removed, but all other services to and from London to these local stations daily (which involve train changes) will continue.
Like many constituents, I’m nevertheless concerned by these proposals, so I have written to and met with East Midlands Railway and I’ve also raised the issue with the Secretary of State for Transport and Rail Minister. In addition, I’ve highlighted this issue in Parliament, alongside my ongoing campaign for the installation of step-free access at Alfreton Station, which you can read in full here. I’ll continue to call on East Midlands Railway to reconsider these proposals and I hope they won’t go ahead with these service changes.
I hold regular surgeries and meetings across the constituency for constituents to raise any issues or problems with me. Please contact my office on 01773 744341 to book an appointment for an upcoming surgery or to arrange an alternative meeting with me.
As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
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Tours and Public Gallery Tickets
As your MP, I am able to book tours of the Houses of Parliament and arrange public gallery tickets for constituents. If you would be interested in having a tour of Parliament or arranging public gallery tickets to sit in on the business of the House or Prime Minister’s Questions, please do get in touch.
Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
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