Improving national employment figures

October 24, 2016


It is good to see that the Government’s economic policies are improving the employment rate across the country.

Figures show that the employment rate in the UK remains at a record high of 31.8 million, which represents 74.5% of the working-age population. In addition, unemployment is steady at 4.9%, the lowest rate in a decade.

Of course, these headline figures are good to see, but there is more good news in the detail. For example, wages grew at an average of 2.3% over the past year, which is well above inflation. This means that more and more people are enjoying real-terms pay rises, taking pressure off family budgets. Also, youth unemployment is down by 300,000 since 2010, and the women in work rate remains near its record high of 69.7%.

I am proud to be part of a Government that has been able to achieve this, and I will continue to do all I can to improve the lives of people in North East Hertfordshire, and across the country.

Making Tax Digital

January 12, 2016

The Treasury’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ programme looks set to be one of the biggest and most significant changes to the tax system in years. It will make HMRC one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world by introducing simple, secure, and personalised digital tax accounts. This will lead to the end of the annual tax return – a particular hassle for many at this time of year.

In March 2015, £1.3b was allocated to introducing these online tax accounts to all businesses and individuals by 2020, allowing tax affairs to be monitored and updated throughout the year, using Government-provided software and apps, thereby ending the need for an annual tax return.

In addition to saving many individuals a lot of work, this will bring huge benefits to businesses. Many businesses report that they worry about having to wait until the end of the year, or even longer, to find out how much tax they owe, and so by enabling them to update their tax accounts throughout the year, they will be able to have much more certainty about their tax position, and allow them to budget accordingly.

This policy could prevent hundreds of millions of pounds of tax loss from incorrect tax returns, give businesses and individuals more certainty about their tax bill, and save millions the worry of the annual tax return, and I will press to ensure that it is implemented on time.


Productivity up in British economy

July 2, 2015

New statistics released yesterday show that that productivity in the UK was 1.3% higher in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, which represents the fastest increase for three years.

The productivity challenge is something that we must overcome in order to secure the recovery, and I am delighted to see such progress being made. This will help us deliver more jobs, make work pay, and cut taxes so that families can keep more of what they earn. Growth, increasing employment, and higher living standards for everyone are central objectives in our One Nation plan, and I look forward to more good figures in the future.

Good news for small businesses

June 24, 2015

I met the Federation of Small Business yesterday and heard that small businesses are in a robust mood, and we have seen small business confidence picking up markedly, with growth and investment intentions reaching levels not seen since the Crash. They say that the latest survey readings on job creation, productivity, and investment all bode well for small businesses sustaining the economy’s growth throughout 2015. We are seeing improvements locally too.

This heartening news is encouraging businesses to invest in further growth and, because of this, productivity is increasing in the sector.

Although there is still much to be done to secure the recovery, these developments in the small business sector are to be welcomed, and I am confident for more of this in the coming months.

Recent falls in UK unemployment

May 19, 2015

I am happy to hear that unemployment in the UK is continuing to fall, according to the latest official figures. For the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate was at its lowest in seven years, down by 35,000 from the final quarter of last year, to 1.83 million. This means that the total number of people in work is 31.1 million, or 73.5%, which is the highest since records began in 1971. In North East Hertfordshire, we have seen those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in April fall to 668, which represents yet another monthly fall.

As for pay, the average salary for employees rose by 2.2% in the last quarter compared with a year earlier, which means that regular pay is now growing at its fastest rate for nearly four years. It is also the seventh month in a row that the rate of regular pay increases has outstripped inflation, meaning that the cost of living is now falling for millions across the UK. The Institute of Directors said that it expected real wages to keep on rising.

Since 2010, this Government has created 1,000 jobs a day, which is more than the rest of Europe put together. This is a record of which we can be proud.

At the first meeting of his new Cabinet, the Prime Minister said that this Government will ensure that for ‘every decision we take, every policy we pursue, every programme we initiate, never forget: we’re here to give everyone in our country the chance to make the most of their life.’

This is a fine way to start this new Conservative majority administration.

Recent low inflation rates

March 3, 2015

There has been some encouraging news on the inflation rate recently and it is important to examine the benefits that this will bring to our economy. The CPI inflation rate fell to a record low of 0.3% in January, helped especially by lower food and oil prices. This downward trend looks set to continue with the possibility of negative inflation coming briefly in the Spring, according to the Governor of the Bank of England. Mr Carney also said that the falling oil price was “unambiguously good” for the economy and motorists have seen petrol prices fall by more than 8p per litre.

All this will have positive effects on the British economy, with the Bank of England predicting growth this year of 2.6% which have led to forecasts of strong wage growth this year.

This is good for hardworking people across the country. Falling prices and rising wages means that more and more pressure is being lifted from family budgets, and this should support growth in consumer spending.

The recovery is, of course, not complete, but these figures are another sign that the Long-term Economic Plan is working. The deficit is down by a half, a thousand jobs have been created for every day that this Government has been in office, and now, low inflation and increasing wages are making life easier for families up and down the country. Britain should stay the course.

Tax cuts – part of the plan

January 29, 2015

The Conservative Party believes that if someone works hard and earns money, they should be able to spend as much as possible, as they like. The Government has no intrinsic right to it: it’s yours. This is why low taxes are so important. People spend their own money, helping the economy.

Since 2010, this Government has cut income tax for over 24 million people, with an average saving of £705, but the Conservatives want to go further after the election. We plan to take everyone who earns less than £12,500 out of income tax altogether, and raise the 40p tax threshold so that no-one earning less than £50,000 pays it. This will provide a tax cut and more disposable income for 30 million people. It will help the economy to grow.

We would do this while cutting the deficit. Over the last five years, Conservatives in Government have halved the deficit while cutting income tax, and in the next Parliament, we’ll do the same again: eliminating the deficit while reducing taxes. The Prime Minister has said that after years of sacrifice, the British people deserve a reward. People whose hard work and personal sacrifices have got this country through the difficult times should come first.

The other main parties have said that, instead, they would tax people more. This would not recognise the sacrifices that the British people have already made, and it would be an attack on aspiration. Only the Conservatives are committed to cutting taxes and building a Britain that rewards work.

Our long-term economic plan will cut tax, create growth, and allow us to cut the deficit.

The latest economic figures from the ONS – the plan is working

January 28, 2015

It was nice to see good economic figures coming from the Office for National Statistics. In 2014, the British economy grew by 2.6%, the fastest since 2007, before the start of the Brown crash. This 2.6% growth is up from 2013’s 1.7%, and many economic sectors are performing well. Locally, our economy is growing even faster, at 6% a year.

On top of this, the IMF is predicting national growth of 2.7% next year, with other forecasters predicting figures as high as 3%. We have every reason to be encouraged by the state of the national finances.

These results put the UK amongst the best-performing of all the major economies, and, with oil prices tumbling, credit remaining affordable, and inflation at a record low, disposable income is rising. This puts us in a strong position.

There are international storm clouds and uncertainties of the General Election are coming up. It is more vital than ever that the UK sticks to our long-term economic plan and stay on the road to a more stable and more secure future. A Labour/SNP coalition would lead to economic chaos.

Start-Up Loans Scheme

January 21, 2015

I was very pleased to read the figures for the Government’s Start-Up Loans Scheme in North-East Hertfordshire. This programme has helped 26 people in North-East Hertfordshire set up their own business – helping to provide growth and jobs for hardworking families across the county. Across the country, 25,000 Start-Up Loans, worth nearly £130 million, have now been awarded, and more than 32,000 new jobs have been generated as a result of the scheme since it was launched in 2012.

Businesses are an essential part of building our communities, as they bring jobs and economic security to towns and cities across the UK. Encouraging business creators is a vital part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain, and we want to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Today’s figures show that Start-Up Loans are helping us to do just that. In North-East Hertfordshire, £81,571 has been lent as part of the Scheme. If a Conservative Government is elected in May, it will triple the number of people who will get Start-Up Loans to 75,000 by 2020, so even more people have the support they need to grow their businesses and create jobs.

The Autumn Statement

December 4, 2014

Yesterday, the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement – his last before the General Election. For those listening, it seemed like one bit of good news after another. This Government has put our economy back on the right track, following the mess that it inherited. I would like to go through some of the most ways in which our economy is now faring better, and then have a look at some of the new announcements that the Chancellor made.

When this Government took office, the deficit was the most immediate danger that our economy faced, but Conservatives’ fiscal discipline and tough decisions have paid off. The deficit is falling from £98 billion last year to £91 billion this year, just as it has fallen in every year of this Government’s administration. It is forecast that the deficit will be eliminated altogether by 2018/19, taking the UK, after so many years, out of the red and back into the black.

The confidence in the market that this discipline has brought has been good for jobs. Last year, the number of people unemployed fell by 538,000 – which was the biggest annual fall ever recorded – and a similar number is forecast for this year.

For those in work, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts that ‘meaningful wage growth’ will pick up next year and grow above inflation for the next five years. Inflation forecasts are significantly revised down to 1.5% this year and 1.2% next year. This means that people’s wage increases will actually be increases in real terms. As well as this, the economy will grow by 3% this year, which is the highest rate of growth in the G7.

Along with this good news, the statement set out some of the Government’s future economic plans, many of which are of particular interest to North-East Hertfordshire.

The first of these is the reform of stamp duty which has just taken effect. The changes have ended the old system of the ‘slab’ tax – whereby an amount was calculated on the total value of a home – and introduced a ‘slice’ system, where different levels of tax are paid on portions of a home’s value that fall within certain bands – just like income tax. This will result in a tax cut for 98% of stamp duty payers, with the average family home of £275,000 benefiting from a cut of £4,500. The only homes that will be subject to a tax rise are the most expensive 2%.

With strong science-based industries in the constituency, the announcement that Government student loans of £10,000 will be available for those undertaking post-graduate Master’s degrees is particularly welcome. This will encourage many more people to take higher degrees, preparing more people for work in the high-skills industries.

With other measures like allowing ISAs that are passed to a partner after death to keep their tax-free status, abolishing National Insurance Contributions for employers who employ an apprentice under the age of 25, cutting Air Passenger Duty for children under the age of 12 – rising to 16 in 2016 – , introducing a new 25% tax on multinational companies that artificially divert profits abroad, continuing the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief, and continuing to cap the inflation-linked increase in business rates at 2%, this was a strong and positive Autumn Statement. It showed how far the economy has come since Labour’s crash, and how Conservatives in Government are implementing their Long-term Economic Plan, so that the recovery that they have secured can make life better for everyone.