Derbyshire Times Column

As published in the Derbyshire Times, Thursday 11th April 2013

This Wednesday saw Parliament recalled from its Easter break following the very sad news of the passing of Lady Thatcher, who was Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990. While I was in the Chamber I heard many well-deserved, strongly-felt tributes paid to her from all sides of the House, which is no surprise, given the respect she commanded for the tough decisions she was forced to take following the troubles we had in the 1970s.

Lady Thatcher was the first Prime Minister I’m able to remember, and she was an exceptionally strong leader. She was without doubt one of the best premiers we’ve ever had. I’d like to offer my condolences to her family at this difficult time.

Last week I had the pleasure of welcoming George Osborne to Amber Valley. During his visit the Chancellor and I visited the Denby Bank development site to see the effects of the £5.4bn Help to Buy scheme he launched at the Budget last month. This will see the Government providing up to 20% of the value of a new home in an equity loan towards a deposit, meaning that my constituents will now have greater access to up to 95% mortgages. A mortgage guarantee scheme, due to be launched in 2014, will help those who want to buy an older home.

The scheme is already working, with a couple already having signed up to it just at the Denby Bank site. Hopefully the Chancellor’s visit will help get the message across to my constituents who don’t feel they’re able to get on, or move up, the housing ladder.

We also took the opportunity to discuss the Budget in more general terms. On Sunday the biggest tax cut for 33,000 of my constituents took effect, in the form of an increase in the personal allowance, taking us closer to our goal of £10,000. This move has taken 3,255 of my lowest-paid constituents out of income tax altogether, which is great news.

We were able to introduce a scheme to scrap 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.

Also in the Budget was help for families, with the announcement that from April next year, the Government will offer tax-free childcare, meeting 20% of childcare costs for working families with children under 12 years of age.

We also scrapped 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 we’ve scrapped the beer duty escalator and taken a penny off the pint.

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 in the Budget last month.