Welcome to my latest newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and around Amber Valley.
As always, you’ll find a selection of what I’ve been up to over the last month and details of upcoming events. You’ll also find the usual information about my columns and surgeries, and how to get in touch.
Article 50 triggered:
Last week, the Prime Minister notified the European Council of the Government’s decision to invoke Article 50 and leave the EU.
Prior to this, in the House, I asked the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for an update on the response from across Europe to the Government’s recent Brexit White Paper. The Secretary of State said he’d visited 9 EU countries over the previous few weeks, and that “the overarching response has been a positive one; it has been one of support for the general approach, and it has been one that seeks a constructive outcome, not the penalty outcome that was talked about by some earlier. It is certainly true that they also think of our approach as very logical, so I think that gives us great cause for optimism in the negotiations.”
This was then followed by a White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill, which will convert EU law into UK law and end the supremacy of lawmakers in Brussels – an important step in giving businesses, workers and consumers the certainty they need. You can find the White Paper here.
Negotiations with the EU over Britain’s future relationship will now start, based on the Prime Minister’s 12 objectives, which you can find a reminder of here.
The Chancellor recently delivered the Budget in the House. Key announcements for Amber Valley residents and our area were:
For individuals & families:
- Rise in the personal tax allowance to a threshold of £11,500 from April 2017;
- Increases in the national living wage to £7.50;
- Tax-Free Childcare increase for working families with children under 12, providing up to £2,000 a year for each child to help with childcare costs. From September 2017, the free childcare offer will double, from 15 to 30 hours a week for working families with 3 and 4 year olds in England, in total worth up to £5,000 for each child;
- Delay to the introduction of digital tax returns for small businesses below the VAT threshold.
- Business rates mitigation, which will provide especially welcome support for struggling small pubs, with up to £1000 relief per year;
- Increase in social care funding by an extra £2 billion over the next three years as we consider a more permanent solution to ease the pressures on care services;
- Increased funding for NHS transformation plans, to provide more health services in the community and relieve pressures on hospitals;
- An extra £23 million for the Midlands to improve road congestion;
- The introduction of new ‘T-levels’ for 16 to 19 year old technical students for training towards careers in areas such as construction;
- An extra £536 million of funding for schools, and plans for the new schools funding formula. This should be allocating more money to rural and Derbyshire schools as its aim is to balance the previously uneven distribution of funding.
You can read my full Budget speech here, my full blog post on the announcements here, and my column analysing what it means for Amber Valley here.
Cancellation of self-employed National Insurance increase:
Although included in the Budget, I welcome the Chancellor’s decision not to proceed with the proposed increases to National Insurance for the self-employed.
In my speech to the House, and in public interviews afterwards, I highlighted that the proposed rise would be unwelcome news to people who are struggling and not getting all the rights they are entitled to, and that a tax rise which discourages any kind of activity is not attractive, especially when our economy is considerably reliant on self-employment.
On doorsteps around Amber Valley, constituents shared these concerns, so I’m pleased the Chancellor listened and confirmed there will be no National Insurance contribution increases in this Parliament. We do need to ensure that employers who are disguising employment to avoid tax are prevented from doing so, but we need to guarantee that the genuine self-employed are not unduly disadvantaged. It’s therefore good news that the Chancellor has also announced the positive step of widening the review of the benefit entitlement differences between employed and self-employed people, so it won’t just encompass parental benefit differences.
Elvira Surabaldiyeva, Kyrgystan MP, Visit:
I recently welcomed Elvira Surabaldieva, an MP in Kyrgystan, to the UK to shadow me for a week in Westminster and in Amber Valley.
Elvira sat in on my meetings in parliament, and then came back to Amber Valley with me to visit several local schools, businesses and charities. This included a visit to Denby Pottery to see how they make their world famous ceramics, and re-opening the upgraded McDonalds in Ripley, which has created an extra 20 local jobs.
Codnor Castle Visit:
Also during Elvira’s time shadowing me around Amber Valley, we visited Codnor Castle to hear about the latest developments at the site from Codnor Castle Heritage Trust’s chairman, Rokia Brown. It was a pleasure to visit the site and hear about the Trust’s work to preserve the area for future generations, as well as improving access for visitors.
Codnor Castle is open on the second Sunday of every month, from 11am-3pm, and you can find out more about their upcoming events here.
Heanor Hospital Update:
Several constituents have been in touch with me for an update on the progress of the new Heanor Hospital.
I’m pleased that construction started on the new Heanor Healthcare Facilities on the 24th November 2016. Derbyshire Community Healthcare have noted that work on site is progressing well, the roof trusses are now in place, and completion of the new building is expected by the 24th November 2017.
A service users’ project group meets monthly to progress tasks such as naming premises, providing new equipment, and planning the opening of new facilities.
The existing Health Centre site is currently subject to an outline planning application for a residential development on the site which, if approved, will be sold to provide funds for reinvestment in healthcare.
I’ll provide further updates on the opening of the new facilities as they’re released.
Langley Mill Train Station:
Alongside my continuing campaign for the overdue installation of step-free access at Alfreton Station to start as soon as possible, constituents have also recently contacted me to highlight the need for improvements at Langley Mill Station. I’ve highlighted the similar desperate need for step-free access at Langley Mill Station with Network Rail and East Midlands Trains in the past and, indeed, I discussed the issue again with Network Rail at a meeting a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, there is no easy scheme to facilitate the installation of level access on the southbound line at Langley Mill, so the project would likely be very expensive. Although there has been a notable increase in passenger numbers at Langley Mill, National Rail maintain this still doesn’t justify giving this project priority at the current time, but I will keep raising this issue to ensure it remains on the agenda for future schemes and funding.
Housing Benefits for 18-21 year olds:
1 April, automatic entitlement to housing costs will be removed for some 18 to 21-year-olds to bring parity between young people who are in work but who may not be able to leave the family home and unemployed young people who are able to work; but, housing support will continue for the most vulnerable.During apprenticeship week, I asked the Minister how the new policy will apply to young people on apprenticeships, who may be earning below the national living wage. The Minister confirmed apprentices will be exempt from this policy, and you can read the full debate here.
Personal Independence Payments:
As the Government improves the Personal Independence Payments system, and following concerns raised by constituents, I asked the Secretary of State to ensure those who need assessments in their own homes can get them.
If you’re having problems with your assessment, please get in touch with me on the usual contact details (below) to discuss.
Public Accounts Committee:
In Public Accounts Committee meetings over March we’ve been looking into a wide range of topical issues, including the BBC licence fee, care for people with learning disabilities and capital funding for schools. You can read more about these inquiries and evidence sessions here, or find out more about upcoming PAC business here.
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee:
In the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, we’ve been looking at the future of the land border, and we’ve just published a report on tourism. You can find the full report and the committee’s upcoming business here.
You can find my latest Ripley & Heanor column, reflect on a few of the key themes of the recent Budget, what they mean for Amber Valley, and considering further measures constituents want to strengthen our area, here.
If there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
I regularly hold surgeries to give you the opportunity to meet with me and discuss any concerns or problems you may have. These are held on Friday evenings between 5pm and 7pm.
If you would like to meet me and discuss any issues, the dates of my upcoming surgeries are:
- Heanor – 7th April 2017
- Swanwick – 21st April 2017
- Codnor – 28th April 2017
Please contact my office on 01773 744341 to book an appointment for any of the above, or to arrange an alternative meeting.
Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
Twitter and Facebook
You can also follow me on Twitter @NigelMillsMP and like me on Facebook here to stay up to date with news and events in Amber Valley throughout the month.