Derby Telegraph Column

As published in the Derby Telegraph, 29th March 2013

On Monday this week I had the opportunity to ask the Home Secretary about the recent news that net immigration has been reduced by a third – she confirmed that this is indeed the case and is as a result of fewer people arriving here. There is still an issue with us being perceived as a soft touch and providing benefits and access to public services to people who have never paid in and on a more generous basis than other countries. I therefore welcomed that the Prime Minister announced that we would further tackle this issue, particularly ahead of the expiry limits on people coming here from Romania and Bulgaria later this year. He announced measures including the limiting of immigrants’ entitlement to benefits such as JSA, banning new immigrants from accessing social housing, and charging foreigners (or their governments) for non-emergency NHS care.

Parliament also concluded its consideration of the Budget this week. The Budget saw the introduction of various measures that will help people in Amber Valley including:

  • Speeding up the increase of the personal allowance to £10,000. This will now take effect from next April, meaning that by the end of this parliament, the average taxpayers’ income tax bill will be £700 less than what it was in 2010. This is on top of the increase starting next week that will benefit 33,000 of my constituents  and take 3,255 of them out of income tax altogether.
  • Tax-free childcare from August 2015, meeting 20% of childcare for those with children under the age of 12. This will be worth up to £1,200 per child, and will save working families in Amber Valley up to £2,400 per year.
  • A Help to Buy scheme which will provide direct help for those wanting to get on, or move up, the housing ladder. The Government will now loan up to 20% of a home’s equity to provide help with a deposit.
  • Scrapping the 3p fuel duty rise and the beer duty escalator planned by the previous government – petrol will now be 13p cheaper than it would have been if we had continued with those plans, and a penny has been taken off the price of a pint of beer.

The Chancellor also took the decision to provide businesses with an incentive to take on more employees, scrapping Employers’ National Insurance contributions on up to four new employees, worth up to £2,000 per business. Good too for investment includes a further cut in Corporation Tax, incentivising job creation.

I was also delighted to hear the Chancellor’s announcement that the ceramics industry is to be exempt from the climate change levy. This move will make it easier for Denby Pottery, a significant employer for my constituents, to sell their great products and create jobs and growth here in Amber Valley.

Last week the Chancellor levelled with the British people. Things are worse than we feared, but despite the challenges we’ve cleared a third – up from a quarter – of the deficit left behind by the previous Government. Our plan is working, with a record number of jobs and record low interest rates as a result of Britain’s credibility in the markets due to our recommitment to deficit reduction. We must stay the course so that we can help families where we can, as we did last week.