• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    25 March 2016

    As the Government Minister in the Whips Office responsible for the Treasury I was especially busy in Westminster last week with the Budget. There was good news for Devon with additional support for small businesses (over 95% of businesses in our constituency employ 10 people or fewer) with increased business rate relief that will be a huge shot in the arm for our high streets and worth thousands for many high street traders. There were also increases to personal tax thresholds meaning a tax reduction for over 30 million people and the removal of hundreds of thousands of the country’s lowest earners from income tax altogether. Further investment has been announced for railway resilience for the Dawlish line and a new ISA saving scheme for younger people will see the government contributing £1 for every £4 invested – all to help boost saving and give a helping hand to younger generations. After the whir of the budget it was good to get back to the constituency and stuck into local issues. In Ashburton I was delighted to meet, during National Apprenticeship Week, our local Post Office’s bright new apprentice Joanna Giles who will be providing vital support to Stuart and Jackie Rogers who continue to run the Post Office with Library attached in close collaboration with the local community. The last government saw the creation of 2 million apprenticeships and under this government we will be driving the creation of a record 3 million more. One pleasing discovery is that library use amongst children is now running at twice the level achieved before its relocation. In Okehampton I met with Kath Dandy who is a director of the local Specsavers and members of the Local Optical Committee to discuss the potential for the greater use of local opticians in the diagnosis and monitoring of eye related medical issues. Pilots in other parts of the country suggest that these arrangements can save money and provide more convenient access to services for local people. I have agreed to take up their points with the local CCG and also with health ministers in government. At County Hall I met with Keri Denton, Programme Director of Connecting Devon and Somerset which is responsible for superfast broadband roll out in the county. I pressed especially hard re the hard to reach areas of the constituency and discussed ideas around how to better engage community broadband groups that might be able to assist with roll out in their immediate area. In Crediton I spent time with local activist Martin Binks discussing his thoughts on how the town square might be better utilised to accommodate more local car parking. Also in Crediton I addressed supporters on the issues of the budget and the EU referendum. A quick straw poll saw around a third more in favour of ‘Remaining’ than ‘Leaving’ but with a third still undecided. For the government’s position on the EU referendum please google ‘EU best of both worlds’.