I was first elected in May 2010 as the Member of Parliament for Amber Valley and then returned to Parliament in May 2015. It is an absolute privilege to serve the people of Amber Valley and I am doing my utmost to represent you to the best of my ability.
I’ve delivered on key pledges that I promised. Unemployment has more than halved since I was first elected, health services are improving – not diminishing – in my constituency, crime has fallen by 21%, the deficit has been halved, migration from outside the EU is down, and we’ve taken 4,000 of my constituents out of Income Tax altogether and delivered a £900 tax cut for 32,000 more.
We’re fixing Labour’s disastrous economy legacy. Before I was elected, the deficit was the highest ever since the war, and for every £4 we spent, £1 was borrowed. Unemployment was at 4.9% here in Amber Valley – higher than both the East Midlands and national average.
We’ve halved the deficit, helping keep interest rates low. This has saved my constituents £2,000 per year on their mortgages in comparison, and it’s also enabled businesses to borrow at lower rates.
We’ve taken action to help businesses (and we have 800 more in Amber Valley since I was elected). We’ve scrapped Labour’s jobs tax, helped businesses borrow, and crucially for Amber Valley, scrapped some green taxes. This means that good local medium-sized manufacturing businesses have saved £50,000 per year.
We’ve more than halved the number of unemployed people in Amber Valley since May 2010, and we’ve seen a record number of jobs created. This has seen employment in my constituency at higher levels than both the East Midlands and national average.
I’ve worked so hard to ensure that local people can find local jobs, having hosted two jobs fairs, which 1,600 constituents attended and 160 found work from. The next one will be in February.
We’ve axed Labour’s jobs tax, and if you re-elect me, I’ll go further on employment. We’d like to see full employment over the course of the next parliament.
Under the previous administration, we saw the Northern Rock collapse here and the ensuing financial crisis, which was in part the result of bad regulation by the previous administration. We’ve created new banking regulations to ensure that banks are safer from crises; high-street and investment banks are now ring-fenced from each other.
We’ve reformed mortgages so that borrowers can afford to pay back their repayments, and also helped out first-time buyers by introducing the Help to Buy scheme. We’ll go further on this if we’re re-elected.
When I was elected, I said that I would be judged based on my performance both in the constituency and in Parliament.
I’ve worked on over 18,000 individual constituency cases, held over 100 advice surgeries, and received 75,000 emails. I’ve also held two Amber Valley Jobs Fairs since I was elected.
In Parliament, I’ve spoken in over 200 debates and voted in 87% of votes – both are above average.
I voted in 2012 to hold an In/Out Referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. We’ve since seen the Prime Minister commit the Conservatives to hold such a referendum in 2017 if we are re-elected.
I promised to help with the cost of living.
We’ve scrapped Labour’s fuel duty escalator, which would have seen 20p more on each litre of petrol. This has saved my constituents £11 each time they fill up.
We took action on home energy bills, saving constituents £60 and ensuring that energy companies put their customers on the cheapest tariff available.
We funded Councils to freeze Council Tax, which meant that when your Councils were run by Conservatives, your tax was frozen. This applied to Derbyshire County Council until last year, and Amber Valley Borough Council until this year.
I have campaigned in Parliament to ensure that responsible beer drinkers aren’t punished for the actions of irresponsible drinkers. As a result of my efforts and the efforts of my colleagues, we scrapped the beer duty escalator and took two pence off a pint. Spirits and wine duty has been frozen.
As the economy is recovering, we have also seen the first real-terms increase in the National Minimum Wage for years. From October, the minimum you can be paid for an hour’s work is £6.50 and I want to see this rise ahead of inflation through the next Parliament.
The cost of care has been capped.
When we came in to office, the Personal Allowance in Income Tax was just £6,475. We’ve seen it increase to £10,000 over the course of this parliament, and by next April, it’ll be £10,500.
As a result of our efforts, 4,000 of my constituents have been taken out of Income Tax altogether, and we’ve delivered a £700 tax cut to 32,000 more.
But I wanted to go further. I launched a petition that would see the Personal Allowance in Income Tax increase to over £12,000 – and I’m pleased to say that the Prime Minister listened. He’s pledged that, providing we can find the savings, we’ll increase it yet further to £12,500. This will mean that anyone working full-time on the Minimum Wage will not pay Income Tax. This will help to ensure work always pays.
I promised action on immigration, supporting our policy of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands compared to the peak under Labour of nearly 300,000. We’ve taken tough action to cap migration from outside the EU, by closing bogus colleges, tightening earnings requirements and toughening up family life tests. Net migration is down by a quarter – at around 50,000 – levels we haven’t seen since the late ’90s. We’ve introduced a Citizen’s Test, which those coming here must pass before they become eligible for work or benefits.
During the course of this parliament it quickly became clear though that it was EU migration pushing the numbers up. That’s why I tabled the amendment in 2013/14 to keep the restrictions in place on migration from Romania and Bulgaria. We need to cap migration from within the EU as well to reduce the pressure on our housing, public services and jobs.
We’ve ensured that people that come here can only do so to work by reforming the welfare system so that migrants can’t claim for the first three months and if they don’t find work after 6 months then they have to leave.
We need to cap migration from within the EU as well to reduce the pressure on our housing, public services and jobs and wage rates and this must be a key part of our renegotiation with the EU.
I promised that we’d ring-fence the NHS budget from spending cuts and we’ve seen real-terms rises this parliament. Locally, when the Heanor Memorial Hospital had to close due to the finding of asbestos in the building, I launched a petition campaign to enhance, not diminish health services in the town, and I submitted 4,000 of my constituents’ signatures to Parliament to save the hospital.
Heanor Memorial Hospital has seen £2.5m investment from the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group – set up by us – and it’ll be rebuilt by 2017, ensuring that Heanor will have a modern hospital building.
The UK has been rated the number one healthcare system in the world by the Commonwealth Fund.
Because of the difficult decisions we have taken to tackle the deficit we have been able to increase spending on the NHS by £12.7 billion over the course of this Parliament and there are now 6,750 fewer managers, and 4,000 more doctors and 3,000 more nurses in the NHS – more than ever before.
We are committed to securing the National Health Service – the very best care, free-at-the-point-of-use – for future generations, so hard-working taxpayers can be confident they will get the care they need.
We won’t stop there. If we’re re-elected, we will go on protecting the NHS budget, and enhancing services.
When we came in to office, we inherited a mess of a welfare system that rewarded people for doing the wrong thing and did not see adequate incentives for getting people back in to work.
We’ve introduced a benefits cap, which ensure that nobody will receive more in benefits than the average family earns, and we’ve rolled out medical assessments to ensure that only those unable to work can claim sickness benefits.
We’ve reformed the disability benefit system to focus resources on those that need help the most.
We’re introducing Universal Credit, which ensures that you can’t earn less in work than out of work demonstrating to everyone that work pays, thereby incentivising people to work more and earn more.
I promised to work hard on education and young people, and here in Amber Valley, we’ve seen:
97% Of pupils are now taking the key subjects that they need to get a good job at the end of their education.
We’ve seen £900,000 extra funding for local schools through the Pupil Premium.
The number of young people in apprenticeships has increased by 300%.
I promised to do right by those that do the right thing and save.
Unlike Labour, we trust people with their own money. We reformed the pensions system so that nobody will have to buy an annuity if they don’t want one, and we scrapped the punitive tax rate for taking a lump sum.
People retiring on defined contributions schemes will see free, impartial advice on how to get the most out of their money.
The Chancellor has consistently increased the rate of ISAs. From April 2014, the allowance is now £15,000, which is three times more than what it was under Labour. We’ve merged cash and stock ISAs into a new single ISA.
We also scrapped the 10p rate on savings income and zero-rating it up to £5,000, meaning 1.5 million low-income savers will benefit.