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.
Syria Air Strikes:
A number of you have contacted me over the last week to express your views on whether the UK should launch air-strikes on Syria. As many of you will know this action was approved by the House with 397 votes to 223, a majority of 174, and I voted in support of such action.
Let me start by saying that votes such as this one require a great deal of consideration and I took all correspondence I received on this matter into account when I voted last night. Before the vote, I met with both the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary to discuss this matter in detail and to raise the concerns that I have received from constituents.
As many of you will know, I voted against air strikes in Syria against President Assad in 2013 and last summer I voted against air strikes in Iraq. However, I believe the situation has changed and recent events, followed by the UN resolution, have demonstrated that something must be done to tackle and confront this evil force. We now have a clear UN Security Council resolution, which calls on member states to take ‘all necessary action’ against ISIL because of the unprecedented threat that ISIL poses to us all.
I am very reluctant to get involved in another Middle East conflict, however I truly believe that the situation now is different and we cannot stand back any longer. Recent events in Paris, Tunisia and the downing of the Russian passenger plane over Sharm el-Sheik have changed things for me – over the last year events have fundamentally altered the climate in which I am required to make this decision. I believe it is right that we stand by our French allies and America and extend these air strikes to degrade and defeat ISIL.
We need to confront the butchers of ISIL and challenge their calculated brutality in Syria as we are doing in Iraq. It is right that we cross the border that ISIL themselves do not recognise. We know that they are plotting more attacks further to the atrocities in Paris and given that we know what they are doing, I don’t think we can stand aside any longer and we should act in self-defence against those who are planning these attacks on innocent people here in Britain.
I know some will be upset with my decision to support extending air strikes to Syria, however I believe it is the right thing to do. Whilst I have taken all comments and concerns into consideration, ultimately it is right that such decision is made according to conscience. I would like to take this opportunity to assure all of my constituents that I would never make such a decision based upon party politics.
Autumn Spending Review – at a glance:
The Chancellor announced the outcome of his Spending Review to Parliament on the 25th November, outlining departmental spending for the year ahead and the Government’s vision for the future of Britain. The Spending Review is the occasion when the Chancellor sets out public spending plans for the Parliament and, in this case, where savings will come from to ensure we are no longer spending more than the tax revenues raised, as we promised in the General Election earlier this year.
While there are various announcements which will be difficult for many people, overall I welcomed the Chancellor’s statement and I am sure many of my constituents will welcome his announcements too – with key announcements on tax credits, extra funding commitments for the police and defence as well as further investment in housing (including further measures on Right to Buy), infrastructure, education and healthcare.
This Government has had to make difficult decisions to secure future economic growth and reduce the national debt as a result of the deficit left by the last Labour Government. This Statement marked a significant moment in the job to fix the nation’s finances as the Government moves from the job of rescuing Britain announcing funding for measures to help rebuild Britain – rebuilding our finances and our society, building on progress we have already made, whilst embarking on ambitious reforms to public services.
To read more on my reaction to the Spending Review, you can find more on my website.
You can read more about the Spending Review and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement here.
Public Accounts Committee – Inquiry into Auto-Enrolment to Workplace Pensions
As many of you will know, to encourage people to save to support themselves into retirement, in 2012, this Government introduced auto-enrolment into workplace pensions. So far large and medium sized employers have successfully introduced this scheme, with smaller employers set to enrol their workers by 2018.
These changes will mean that all employers must automatically enrol eligible workers into a pension scheme, and make contributions. In this inquiry we looked at the risks of registering smaller employers and how DWP ensures that more widespread enrolment translates into higher retirement incomes. You can read my contributions to the inquiry here and you can watch the inquiry here.
East Midlands Housing Event with Futures Housing Group
Earlier this week, I invited Futures Housing Group to Parliament to discuss pressures on the East Midlands housing market and how to address them. The event was also attended by a number of the region’s MPs and other housing providers from across the East Midlands – it also featured on the BBC East Midlands Today Programme.
I was delighted to host this event alongside Futures Housing Group, an Amber Valley housing provider who I work closely with in the constituency. It was a great opportunity to bring together key East Midlands housing providers including Nottingham City Homes, Fairgrove Homes, Rockingham Forest Housing Association, the Longhurst Group and Wellingborough Homes and regional MPs to discuss how the Government and these organisations can work together to boost the East Midlands economy and how to address the pressures on the regional housing market. You can read more about the event on my website.
Cash Retentions in the Construction Sector
I have been contacted in the past by local companies who operate in the construction sector about the impact of the cash retention system on small and medium sized businesses. I recently took the opportunity to raise this issue directly with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP during Business, Innovation and Skills parliamentary questions to ask him directly what can be done to support companies in the construction industry who are impacted by such practises.
I welcomed the Secretary of State’s response and that this Government is working with the industry through the Construction Leadership Council and its supply chain payment charter, which includes a commitment to zero retentions by 2025. I am aware that the Government has launched a commission to analyse the cost and benefit of retention payments to inform future action. You can read more about this and my full exchange with the Secretary of State on my website.
Latest Unemployment Figures:
I welcome recent new figures showing that the number of people in Amber Valley claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance was 144 lower than in October 2014, and 49 lower than in September 2015. This means that unemployment in Amber Valley is now less than 1.8%.
I’m delighted that youth unemployment is also falling. The number of claimants aged 18-24 in Amber Valley in October 2015 was 55 lower than in October 2014.
At more than 73 per cent, our employment rate has never been higher and it’s fantastic that we are moving towards the goal of full employment that we committed to in our manifesto, with jobs being created across Amber Valley.
The figures also show that average pay growth is now 3 per cent, while inflation is close to flat, which means working people across Amber Valley are seeing their wages grow – and our plan for a high-employment and high wage economy is working.
These figures are excellent news, but I am still committed to continuing to hold Jobs Fairs and other events to help even more people find work and training opportunities.
A38 Noise Update:
I have also been pressing the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency for an update on measures to combat noise from the A38, which causes problems for so many people in Amber Valley.
I welcome an update from Highways England that they have launched a bid for funding to resurface the A38 through Amber Valley, following this Government’s pledge to provide £75 million for low noise surfacing on our roads. These desperately needed improvements would have an expected delivery date of between 2017 and 2021 – as the road reaches the end of its serviceable life.
To support this project, I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Transport to emphasize the urgency of low noise surfacing, and the great impact this scheme would have in Amber Valley.
I will continue to push for this desperately needed infrastructure improvement!
NHBC & Radleigh Homes Site Visit:
I was delighted to recently visit a new site owned by developer Radleigh which will provide nine new affordable homes in Ripley. The site will be known as Wallis Close and will consist of one bungalow, four one-bedroom maisonettes and four two-bedroom houses. All properties will be available for affordable rent, via Futures Housing Group.
The site visit was organised by NHBC, the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK, to highlight its risk management processes and to demonstrate a prime example of much needed affordable homes being built on a former disused site.
This year, from January to September, 185 new homes have already been started in Amber Valley, and this particular development makes an important contribution to meet the demand for more affordable homes.
I was pleased to visit the Wallis Close site to see these fantastic new houses being built. They are a great example of how this Government is combining the fastest level of house building for 20 years, to get the new homes we need, whilst also prioritising regenerating brownfield sites to protect our greenfield land.
You can read more about NHBC here, and you can keep up to date with Radleigh Homes here.
You can read my latest Derby Telegraph Column, regarding the Prime Minister’s EU re-negotiations, here.
You can also find my latest Ripley & Heanor Column here, which focuses on housing developments and noise from the A38.
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:
- Horsley Surgery – 4th December 2015
- Ripley Surgery – 11th December 2015
Please contact my office on 01773 744341 to book an appointment for any of the above.
I’m also delighted to announce that I will be holding some supermarket surgeries in the New Year.
I will be at Tesco’s in Heanor on the 8th January 2016 from 10.30am – please come and say hello, and raise any concerns or problems with me whilst you do your shopping!
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.