I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and were able to enjoy a break with your friends and family. This column continues my review of progress to date on my six point plan for this constituency. One of my priorities is to support families, charities and communities.
The changes to Tax Credits proposed in the Summer Budget was an issue that generated much debate and controversy and many of you contacted me. I met with the Chancellor personally to push the case for reconsideration. I was therefore pleased when the changes were scrapped. The Tax Credits will now be replaced by Universal Credit during this Parliament and the immediate impact of the reduction in benefits will be delayed until the benefit of the rises in the new National Living Wage and increases in the personal tax allowance are felt.
An issue that was first raised with me by the Newquay Chamber of Commerce, several months before the election, is the impact that the changes to school attendance rules are having on families in Cornwall. So many of you have made your feelings clear that as your MP, I simply could not ignore the force of feeling in Mid-Cornwall. Many people here work in the tourist industry and therefore are unable to take a family holiday during school holidays. Additionally many families are simply unable to afford a holiday during the peak season. My job is to represent you and so I have worked to do just that. In October I lead the Parliamentary debate that re-opened this issue. While the debate did not result in any immediate change, the issue has received wide coverage and I will work to ensure that momentum is maintained.
The historic Deal for Cornwall signed in June this year represents a first step on the road to devolution of more powers to Cornwall from Westminster and then of powers from Cornwall Council to a more local level. High on the agenda for me in this area is the issue of public toilets. Cornwall Council has been looking to hand responsibility for the running of public toilets off to local councils and so I have been lobbying in Westminster for the removal of business rates on toilets.
Finally, young people and their future in mid-Cornwall is a topic that is close to my heart. I have been lucky to spend my whole life working in Cornwall, but I know too many of our young people have no option but to leave Cornwall to pursue the career they want. I am working to support the creation of better career opportunities in mid-Cornwall through attracting companies to bring jobs to this area. We need to provide new times of career opportunities and I see the chance of the UK Spaceport coming to Newquay as the best opportunity Cornwall has had for many years to achieve this. I have been and will continue to promote Newquay as the best location for this new exciting facility in Westminster.
Representing St Austell and Newquay as your MP is the greatest honour of my life. But for me the real honour will be in helping to bring about the positive change we need. I have tried to use my first few months to make a start but I know there is much more to do.