Monday, 10 March 2014
Welcome to this, my 148th news bulletin.
As a Member of Parliament you receive a lot of correspondence, with people’s views on all sorts of policy areas. It is a political truth that more people write to raise concerns than to congratulate, so it is always good to receive positive feedback on a policy.
One such policy has been welfare reform. I think this is for the simple reason that most people in Crewe and Nantwich realise that work pays, and those who do work do not believe that they should be paying for those who can, but choose not to. In line with that view the Government has had a number of important wins. We have been:
- Getting people back to work with our Work Programme. We have set up the largest programme to get people into work since the 1930s. The Work Programme pays by results with jobcentres incentivised to get people into long-term work.
- Supporting young people into work with our Youth Contract. We have set up the £1bn Youth contract to get young people onto the job ladder.
The results are there for all to see. The most recent employment figures show that:
- Unemployment is down 125,000 this quarter
- It is down 152,000 since the Labour Government left office. This means that there are 152,000 more people with the security of a wage who are able to meet their obligations and provide for their family.
In Crewe and Nantwich unemployment is down by 21.7% on the last year, and youth unemployment by almost a quarter.
Welfare reform is a fair way of achieving these employment goals. We are:
- Capping the overall amount an out of work household can get in benefits. So that people cannot claim in benefits more than most earn in work, we are capping the overall amount of benefits to £26,000 a year, in line with the average wage after tax.
- Making sure that benefits don’t rise more quickly than wages. Most benefit levels have risen twice as fast as average wages since the financial crisis. We have capped the increase to 1% to match public sector pay.
- Fixing the welfare system to make sure work always pays. We are rolling complex benefits into one simple payment, the universal credit, to make sure that people are always better off by taking on more work.
This is ambitious. It is difficult to achieve. And it is common sense. The Labour Party like to criticise welfare reform, but they have a selective memory.
Labour punished work, and hardworking people lost over £9 of every extra £10 they earned. The benefit system was so complicated that for some people, there was no point in working more because they would lose more in benefits than they would earn in work.
Labour also watched while the number of people on social housing waiting lists nearly doubled. The number rose to 4.5 million people, many of whom had no realistic chance of being allocated a home. They let the housing benefit bill spiral out of control, and they still have no answer to how they would pay for the reversal of our policy of making spare rooms available to other social housing tenants who actually need them to live in.
In England alone, just under a quarter of a million households in the social sector are over-crowded, while 386,000 social sector households have at least one spare room.
Even after the reform we pay over 80% of most claimants’ housing benefit, but the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need. It is right that people contribute to these costs, just as private renters do. This is about ensuring fairness to those in overcrowded accommodation, those on the waiting list, those in the private sector, and importantly, the taxpayer.
Cheshire East Council have been allocated over £450,000 to help people affected by changes to housing benefit in 2013/14 and have already made 335 payments. You can read more online about these payments at the Cheshire East website.
The bottom line is this. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with claiming benefits, if you need them. I frequently help constituents in claiming benefits they are properly entitled to through my regular advice surgeries.
But I want all of my constituents to work if they can. This makes for a successful and thriving local economy that companies want to invest in. I don’t want those who do work to be subsidising those who can, but can’t be bothered.
I also want good quality social housing to be available for those who need it. Not blocked up with those taking up unnecessary space at the taxpayer’s expense, unless they are going to contribute to the cost of building more through increased rent.
That’s fairness. That’s what I stand for. And I’m glad so many of my constituents are with me on this.
Edward Timpson MP
Member of Parliament for Crewe and Nantwich and Minister of the Year
Please remember, you can always contact me directly if you have any questions for me, or if there is anything I can do to assist you.
Locally, I have...
- Visited the Wyche Primary School Enterprise Club's market stall (pictured, right). Held on Saturday in Nantwich town centre, the Enterprise Club's stall sold a range of mugs, key-rings and pendants, all designed and sold by the children, to raise funds for art and computer equipment.
- Met with the "peer mentors" at Leighton Academy, who have won Diana Awards two years running for their anti-bullying work.
- Welcomed Transport Minister Baroness Kramer to Crewe, where she met with local councillors and rail champion Pete Waterman. Together, we are campaigning for an HS2 'superhub' for Crewe.
- Helped present a cheque to Stick'n'Step cerebral palsy charity, with young Crewe fundraiser Stevie Bradshaw. Stevie, who has cerebral palsy herself, has raised £1,192 by completing a sponsored swim, an amount that Sean Pattinson of Grenson Motors in Crewe topped up to £1,600.
- Held two of my regular constituency advice surgeries, where I can offer advice and assistance to any Crewe and Nantwich resident who needs help with a matter of concern to them. If you need to book an appointment to speak to me, my contact details are below.
- Attended the 'Chatterbox' parents forum at Malbank School, to talk about the issues that are facing them and their families.
Rail community pulls together
I met with station managers and staff at Crewe Station after last month's storms to extend thanks on behalf of the whole community to the team who did so much to get the trains running after the station was damaged in the bad weather.
Winners' joy at Crewe & Nantwich Community Awards 2014
Nantwich News: Big-hearted volunteers and fundraisers celebrated after being named winners in the Crewe and Nantwich Community Awards 2014.
The awards, organised by Nantwich-based The Cat Community Radio Station, were held at Richmond Village.
They are designed to give recognition to local people who dedicate their time helping others.
Winners of the awards include Elizabeth Chesters, for Long Service to the Community; Ray of Hope UK for Local Volunteer of the Year; Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Steve Phillips for Local Fundraiser of the Year; Bethany Daley for Young Person of the Year; and Sean Savage for Achievement of the Year.
More than 60 people attended the black tie event which included a three-course meal and entertainment from local duo Baxter.
Nominations were made by local people, and winners decided by a panel consisting of MP Edward Timpson, Debbie Owens of Crewe Lions, John Weir from Nantwich LAP and Alison Harding from Richmond Village.
Organiser of the event Claire Faulkner said: “I am so proud of everybody who was nominated.
“The high level of entries this year goes to show that as a community, we value everybody who tries to make a difference or volunteers their time to help others.
“The evening is about celebrating the achievements of everybody in our community and thanking them for all that they do.”
Transport Minister weighs up Crewe superhub bid
Crewe Chronicle: TRANSPORT Minister Baroness Kramer paid a visit to Crewe Railway Station and the proposed site for the HS2 superhub at Crewe. The visit comes ahead of a final decision later this year on the HS2 route and any additional new stations.
The Liberal Democrat Peer said she was “delighted to visit the site” and praised the “passion” of Cheshire East Council leader Michael Jones and avid HS2 supporter, Pete Waterman, who is a board member of the Warrington and Cheshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Together with Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson, they are spearheading the Crewe superhub bid.
The minister was taken on a tour of the current station as well as the proposed site of the HS2 superhub, south of the current station.
Baroness Kramer told the Chronicle the purpose of her visit had been to see Crewe and the proposed station site for herself. She was also adamant no decision had been made about the Crewe bid - or any other bid - and there would be no announcement until the end of the year.
“When people respond to a consultation you get a real understanding of the community and the potential,” said the Transport Minister, speaking at Crewe Station. “The Secretary of State will make an announcement towards the end of the year but I find it very helpful to come out and see the situation on the ground. It helps to clarify the issue.”
Cheshire East Council, together with MP Edward Timpson and Pete Waterman, have been campaigning for a superhub station at Crewe since details of the Government’s preferred HS2 route was first announced.
Cheshire East submitted its bid recently.
Baroness Kramer said there had been various interesting bids for new stations and ‘not everyone will end up happy’.
She said it’s important to use HS2 not just as a means of getting from A to B but to use it to underpin economic growth.
When pressed about the strength of the Crewe bid, the Baroness said: “It’s important that we look at the consultation without closed minds and don’t make snap judgments.”
Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson, who also held talks with Baroness Kramer during her visit on Thursday, said: “It’s fantastic to have Baroness Kramer here to see for herself both the station and the proposed site.”
Mr Timpson, who has been working behind the scenes, said the bid put forward by Cheshire East and himself for an HS2 station for Crewe ‘is a no-brainer’ not just because of the excellent connectivity but also because of the town’s ability to provide workers with the expertise, not just for construction but for ongoing maintenance.
“It would be good for Crewe and the surrounding area,” said the Conservative MP.
Praise for Crewe Station staff following swift evacuation
Crewe Chronicle: CREWE and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson has praised rail services and emergency services for their swift response in getting to passengers to safety after part of the station roof blew off in severe gale force winds.
Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson said: "My office has spoken both to the station manager and the regional manager for Virgin Trains, who are to be congratulated, along with their staff, for getting the situation under control so smoothly.
"I am also grateful to the Crewe Arms Hotel for taking in evacuated passengers. This shows our rail community pulling together in time of need.
"I have promised Virgin every assistance in getting the building repaired swiftly, should my help be required."
MP welcomes job figures
Crewe Chronicle: Edward Timpson MP has welcomed statistics that show the Government's economic plan has helped get 7,500 young people off benefits in the North West over the past year.
Crewe and Nantwich itself has seen a 24.1% fall in youth unemployment in the last year. Edward Timpson said: "Here in Crewe and Nantwich we have seen a fall in youth unemployment of almost a quarter in the same period. That means 7,500 more people receiving a regular pay packet, learning a profession or getting the training they need to give themselves a more secure future.
"Of course there is still more to do, but these figures show that the long-term plan to fix the economy is working, getting people off benefits and into work - delivering a more secure future for young people in Crewe and Nantwich who want to work hard and get on in life."
And the business capital of the UK is...
Crewe has been named one of the top twenty places in the UK to start and run a business, by Experian research, published this week. Crewe is the only town in the North West to make the list.
The Daily Telegraph: "The information services company rated the towns and cities across the UK on four criteria: the number of start-ups; rate of insolvencies; the level of financial health; and turnover growth compared with 2012. Northampton had the highest overall score, closely followed by Southall in south east London, Aberdeen and Bristol.
"Towns in the South of England accounted for 65pc of the top 20, with only Crewe and York representing the North, while from Scotland, only Aberdeen made the top ranking. There were no top 20 entries from Wales or Northern Ireland."
You can read the full article on the Telegraph website.