New funding pot for local charities

January 31, 2017

I welcome this excellent opportunity to get a special project off the ground to benefit the local community. Funding will be allocated to lots of different types of initiatives and it’s such a fantastic opportunity for local charities to get additional support that I encourage constituents to apply now.

The funding will be allocated through three Trusts, which support different categories of projects. There will be two opportunities for groups to apply in 2017 (January and August) and £3 million will be available for each funding round. The application process is simple. The first round – which opens from 23 January until 10 February 2017 – starts with organisations being encouraged to submit an ‘expression of interest’ form. Charities will then be shortlisted to complete a full application for funding.

The People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights, equal rights and conflict resolution for some of society’s most vulnerable groups. Postcode Local Trust supports wildlife, sustainability and volunteering initiatives. Postcode Community Trust focuses on grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.”

In August, interested groups and organisations can apply or re-apply when a second pot of £3million will become available. The maximum a project can receive is £20,000.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “£6million injected into grass-roots projects across Great Britain will have a tremendous impact in local communities. We encourage charities to put themselves forward for this funding and to have a look at the different Trusts to see where their project fits in.”

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £168.4 million to date for over 2,800 good causes across Great Britain and internationally. For more information on how to apply for funding, I recommend that you visit the Trusts’ websites: www.postcodetrust.org.uk.

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The Secretary of State’s comprehensive industrial strategy

January 25, 2017

I welcome the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s comprehensive and clear industrial strategy. Here is his letter to MPs –

This is an important moment for the United Kingdom. As we prepare to leave the European Union, we must look forward and plan the long term policies and decisions that will shape how we earn a prosperous living in the years ahead.

Today’s Green Paper, “Building our Industrial Strategy”, is part of an open dialogue to develop this strategy as the enduring foundation of an economy that works for everyone.

We start from a position of considerable strength. We are the fifth biggest economy in the world, despite having the 22nd highest population. We have achieved higher levels of employment than ever before in our history – in fact 2.7 million more than in 2010. We have businesses, research institutions and cultural achievements at the very forefront of global excellence. And for all these reasons, we attract investment and talented individuals from around the world. But there are challenges that the UK must face up to, now and in the years ahead.

The first is to build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future.

Our excellence in key technologies, professions, research disciplines and institutions provides us with crucial competitive advantages. But we can’t take them for granted.

If other countries invest more in research and development, and we do not, then we cannot expect to keep, let alone extend, our technological lead in key sectors – or the world-beating performance of our universities. The same goes for our record as Europe’s leading destination for inward investment or our position as a centre of international finance. Our competitors are not standing still. They are upgrading infrastructure networks and reforming systems of governance. Therefore we too must strive for improvement.

In industrial sectors – from automotive and aerospace to financial and professional services and the creative industries – the UK has built a global reputation. But the competition for new investment is fierce and unending. The conditions that have allowed UK investment destinations to succeed include the availability of supportive research programmes, relevant skills in local labour markets and capable domestic supply chains. However, for continuing success, these foundations must be maintained and strengthened.

The second challenge is to ensure that every place meets its potential by working to close the gap between our best performing companies, industries, places and people and those which are less productive. The UK is one of the most centralised countries in the world, but this has not led to the country being uniformly prosperous. For all the global excellence of the UK’s best companies, industries, and places we have too many who lie far behind the leaders. That is why, on average, workers in France, Germany and the USA produce around as much in four days as UK workers do in five. It is also why despite having the most prosperous local economy in Northern Europe – in central London – we also have twelve of the twenty poorest among our closest neighbours.

For all the progress of more people going to university than ever before, too many people don’t have the education and skills they need to be able to command a good wage. We have more university graduates than the OECD average, but also more people with low levels of literacy and numeracy. We must address these long ‘tails’ of underperformance if we are to build a strong economy and ensure sustainable growth in living standards.

The third challenge is to make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to found or to grow a business. It’s worth noting that many of the most important companies in the world today didn’t even exist 25 years ago. Unlike in the past, industrial strategy must be about creating the right conditions for new and growing enterprise to thrive, not protecting the position of incumbents.

A modern industrial strategy must make this country a fertile ground for new businesses and new industries which will challenge and in some cases displace the companies and industries of today.

To meet these challenges we’ve identified ten pillars around which our proposals are structured – ten areas of action to drive growth right across the economy and in every part of the country.

They are:

  • Investing in science, research and innovation
  • Developing skills
  • Upgrading infrastructure
  • Supporting businesses to start and grow
  • Improving procurement
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors
  • Driving growth across the whole country
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

Across all of these areas, the Government is already taking strategic decisions to keep British industry on the front foot. For instance, the go ahead for major upgrades to our infrastructure such as Hinkley Point C, Heathrow and High Speed 2; and, in the Autumn Statement, the biggest increase in research and development spending since 1979.

Alongside today’s Green Paper we are launching a range of further measures. These include:

  • a new approach to enabling existing and emerging sectors to grow through Sector Deals – with reviews taking place regarding life sciences, ultra-low emission vehicles, industrial digitalisation, nuclear and the creative industries;
  • deciding on the priority challenges and technologies for the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to focus on, and the other opportunities we can address using the £4.7 billion increase in research and development funding; and
  • an overhaul of technical education, including £170 million of capital funding to set up institutes of technology to deliver education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

In a world containing so much uncertainty, public policy should aim to be a countervailing force for stability, not an additional source of unpredictability.

Whether in the public or private sector, investors need a stable policy framework against which they can make confident, long-term decisions. So our aim is to establish an industrial strategy for the long term.

To do that requires developing an enduring industrial strategy with, and not just for, the nations, communities and enterprises of the United Kingdom. That is why this is a Green Paper – a set of proposals for discussion and consideration, and an invitation to all to contribute collaboratively to their development.

I and my Ministerial team will be pleased to meet with you and other colleagues to hear your contributions and advice as we continue the development of this strategy.

Yours ever,

THE RT HON GREG CLARK MP

Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy


Investment opportunity for energy entrepreneurs

January 25, 2017

I welcome the announcement of a business accelerator programme which is helping the brightest entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs with innovative energy projects from the East of England with a chance to gain financial investment and support. The only criteria is that the idea must make a positive difference to society.

Ignite is the UK’s first impact investment fund that focuses on energy, providing firms with the funding and expertise they need to help achieve their potential and make a positive impact on society.  Since 2014, the programme has supported more than 25 enterprises across the country, committing investment totalling £8 million so far to businesses that are passionate about building a better and more energy efficient future.

It would be great to see projects from the constituency securing support and financial investment in this round of applications. Please visit www.ignitesocialenterprise.com to find out more.

Enterprises must submit their applications to the Big Energy Idea before 31 January. If shortlisted, they will be asked to pitch to a panel of industry and social enterprise experts in February.


Government announcement of further capital funding to improve the productivity of our local roads

January 25, 2017

I welcome the Government announcement that further capital funding will go to local councils in 2017/18 to improve the productivity of our local roads. Substantial funding is being provided.

Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for the Department of Transport made clear that “our roads network is used by 95 per cent of people every day and its vital this lifeline is enhanced and maintained. That is why the Government is committed to upgrading and renewing the local highway infrastructure.”

I am delighted that Hertfordshire has such a substantial allocation of funding. For Hertfordshire, there is a total allocation for 2017/18 of £20,692,000. The Highways Maintenance Block Needs Formula will benefit from £15,828,000 of the allocation. The Pothole Action Fund and the National Productivity Investment Fund benefit from £1,293,000 and £3,571,000 respectively. Our roads network is a crucial area of our public infrastructure, and this will help in improving productivity and easing of congestion. I am confident this will keep Hertfordshire moving ahead.


Consultation on night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted

January 23, 2017

I am very pleased to see that the Government has launched a consultation on night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

The Transport Minister for Aviation, International Trade and Europe – Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon – has made clear that “the Government acknowledges that noise at night represents the least acceptable form of aircraft noise, however, night flights are important to the economy – they create extra choice for passengers and are crucial for operation of the time sensitive freight sector. The proposals in our consultation will ensure that we continue to balance these competing interests.”

The consultation seeks views and evidence relating to the Government proposals that will inform an eventual decision on the restrictions later in the year. The relevant documents can be accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/night-flight-restrictions-at-gatwick-heathrow-and-stansted and consultation responses can be submitted using the response form at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/J6KX6.


The Prime Minister’s 12 clear negotiating objectives for our discussion with the other EU countries

January 23, 2017

I welcome the Prime Minister’s clear statement on the 12 negotiating objectives for our discussion with the other EU countries. Here is her letter to MPs –

Dear colleague,

Today I set out the Government’s 12 negotiating objectives for Brexit, part of our Plan for Britain, which aims to get the right deal abroad while ensuring a better deal for ordinary working people here at home.

The referendum vote last June was about something more than simply leaving the European Union. It was a vote for change: to make Britain stronger and fairer – restoring national self-determination while becoming even more global and international in action and spirit. And while it was a vote to leave the EU, it was not a vote to leave Europe – we want to continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends with European countries.

So in that spirit, we are not seeking partial membership of the EU, associate membership, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries or hold on to bits of membership as we leave.

We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. It remains firmly in Britain’s national interest that the EU should succeed after we have left.

Principles

As we negotiate that partnership, we will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage. And we will take this opportunity to make Britain stronger, to make Britain fairer, and to build a more Global Britain too.

Objectives

The 12 objectives amount to one big goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union.

1. Certainty: whenever we can, we will provide it. And we can confirm today that the Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament.

2. Control of our own laws: we will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. Because we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws.

3. Strengthen the Union: we must strengthen the precious Union between the four nations of the United Kingdom. We will work very carefully to ensure that – as powers are repatriated back to Britain – the right powers are returned to Westminster and the right powers are passed to the devolved administrations. We will make sure that no new barriers to living and doing business within our Union are created.

4. Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland: we will work to deliver a practical solution that allows the maintenance of the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland, while protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom’s immigration system.

5. Control of immigration: the message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. We will continue to attract the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain but there must be control.

6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU: we want to guarantee these rights as early as we can. We have told other EU leaders that we can offer EU nationals here this certainty, as long as this is reciprocated for British citizens in EU countries.

7. Protect workers’ rights: as we translate the body of European law into our domestic regulations, we will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained.

8. Free trade with European markets: as a priority we will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and EU member states. It cannot though mean membership of the EU’s Single Market. That would mean complying with European Court of Justice rulings, free movement and other EU rules and regulations without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are. And because we will no longer be members of the Single Market, we will not be required to contribute huge sums to the EU budget. If we contribute to some specific EU programmes that we wish to participate in, it will be for us to decide.

9. New trade agreements with other countries: it is time for Britain to become a global trading nation, striking trade agreements around the world. Through the Common Commercial Policy and the Common External Tariff, full Customs Union membership prevents us from doing this – but we do want to have a customs agreement with the EU and have an open mind on how we achieve this end.

10. The best place for science and innovation: we will continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives.

11. Co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism: we want our future relationship with the EU to include practical arrangements on matters of law enforcement and intelligence.

12. A smooth, orderly Brexit: we want to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two year Article 50 process has concluded. From that point onwards, we expect a phased process of implementation. We will work to avoid a disruptive cliff-edge.

While Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbour to Europe, we know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal. However, we are clear that getting no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.

This is because we would still be able to trade with Europe. We would be free to strike trade deals across the world. And we would have the freedom to set the competitive tax rates and embrace the policies that would attract the world’s best companies and biggest investors to Britain. And – if we were excluded from accessing the Single Market – we would be free to change the basis of Britain’s economic model. But for the EU, it would mean new barriers to trade with one of the biggest economies in the world.

We are confident though that this scenario never need arise and are sure that positive agreement can be reached. We are confident that we will follow a better path because of the shared values and spirit of goodwill that exists on both sides; because it is the economically rational thing for both Britain and the EU; and because co-operation is needed not just when it comes to trade but when it comes to security too.

Only the Conservatives have a Plan for Britain

As we leave the European Union, this Conservative Government has a plan to get the right deal for Britain. But none of the others parties seem to believe Britain can thrive outside the European Union.

– Labour have been clear that getting control of immigration and our laws isn’t a priority –they’ve also threatened to block Article 50 in Parliament and said they are keeping their options open on a second referendum.

– Despite saying they would accept the results of the referendum, the Liberal Democrats are now trying to overturn it and, if they fail, want us to accept the worst of all worlds – membership of the single market, with no control over its rules and regulations and no control over immigration.

– The SNP are trying to turn the process of Brexit into a reason why Scotland should be independent – despite effectively campaigning to leave the EU during the Scottish referendum in 2014.

– And UKIP are on their third leader since last June – they have contributed nothing to this process.

Now we have set out the detailed objectives for leaving the EU, it is up to these other parties to tell us whether they back our plan to get the right deal for Britain or reject it.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with my team at Downing Street, the team at the Department for Exiting the European Union, the Whips’ Office, or my PPS George Hollingbery if you have any questions.

With best wishes,

The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party


Support and advice for young businesses in Hertfordshire

January 6, 2017

I welcome the announcement of a competition for young businesses in a Hertfordshire to win advice and support from established companies. The One Competition (www.theonecompetition.co.uk) brings together top businesses in the region to offer an unrivalled package of business support, advice and service, enabling the winner to spread their wings and take their business to the next level. It offers a prize value of over £25,000 in business support.

Applications are welcomed from any business in the Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire area which is under five years old. I hope businesses in my constituency will look at entering.

The closing date is 31 January 2017.