Thursday, 11 December 2014

Regional Pay

As many of you may have seen, our current MP has published literature and emails claiming that he stopped ‘Tory Plans’ to introduce regional pay. These proposals were raised in 2012 and would have seen local public sector pay linked to regional private sector pay.

I have considered carefully whether or not to respond to these inaccurate claims but felt in the end the people of this constituency deserved to know the facts.

The issue revolves around the linking of public sector pay to regional private sector pay.  Public sector pay is currently set centrally but the proposed change would have adversely affected public sector workers in lower paid areas such as Cornwall. It was the last Labour Government who introduced regional pay into our Court system and the reforms proposed in 2012 were an extension of this policy.

However, I can state that the Conservative Party are not and will not be introducing regional pay. This is desperate scaremongering by our Liberal Democrat MP and it is really disappointing to see him using our hard-working nurses and teachers to play party politics in this way.

Personally I did not support these proposals when they were first mooted and I still don’t.

The argument for such a policy has two main thrusts.  Firstly, linking the two pay scales would help the private sector to be more competitive.  Secondly, a lower average wage would allow for the creation of more public sector jobs for the same total wage bill.

For me this is the not the answer, it is a backward and punitive step that would negatively impact many people in this Constituency. The way to address the underlying issue is to work to raise private sector wages in order to close the pay gap. This is something I care about deeply and would be one of my top priorities if I am elected.

Conservative MPs in Cornwall have confirmed to me that it was in fact Conservatives in Government, who persuaded Her Majesty’s Treasury, where these proposals started, that these proposals were unacceptable to places like Cornwall and as a result they were dropped.

Far from this being just a Conservative policy, this was just as much a policy promoted by senior Liberal Democrats, including the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, who championed the regional pay proposals in 2012 as demonstrated here

It appears that, as is typical of our Lib Dem MP, he is spinning stories to suit his own anti Tory agenda. He also conveniently ignores the point that he has supported the Conservatives in Government, voting with the Tories 95% of the time – a record even some Conservative backbenchers would be proud of. 

Sadly, this part of Cornwall has suffered for too long under the ineffective political representation of the Lib Dems as we have watched our towns decline and good jobs disappear. I am sure we would prefer that our MP focussed on growing our local economy and working to raise local wages rather than trying to score political points at every opportunity.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Stamp Duty reform a boost to Cornish homebuyers

In a bold move on Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne ended the old “slab” style Stamp Duty system and replaced it with a progressive system that will help more local people become homeowners.

Buying a home is the most expensive purchase most of us will ever make. I believe it is right that this government has reduced the amount it takes from house buyers. One of the biggest issues facing our local communities is the cost of homes, especially for first time buyers. So any help the government can give to make that first house purchase more attainable gets my vote.

This move, I believe, will be an excellent boost to the local housing market that has been implemented in a fair, progressive manner.  Stamp duty is now levied via a sliding scale, much like income tax.  Homes costing less than 125,000 remain free of stamp duty.  For homes above this amount, the extra cost is now taxed, not the whole sum but only on the amount above the threshold.  The vast majority of house purchasers in this area will now pay significantly less when they buy a home. It is only those buying homes of almost £1million that will be paying more.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday George Osborne said, “Mr Speaker, there has been a debate in this country about taxing houses. The system I introduce today replaces a badly designed system that has distorted our housing market for decades.”

The Labour Party has long been advocating a “mansion tax”, an unpopular idea that would not solve the problem it seeks to address. Taxing assets rather than income or spending, in my view, would be a detrimental move.  The Chancellor on the other hand has not only addressed the problem but has circumvented the need to introduce yet another tax and the accompanying bureaucracy. 

The Chancellor continued, “It reduces the stamp taxes for 98% of people who pay them in this country.  It increases the taxes on the most expensive 2% of homes.”

This is a great example of the Conservative Party once again delivering fair and needed reforms that benefits the people who need them most.

If you would like to discuss this or any other issue then please do not hesitate to contact me.