Two issues dominated my work recently.
The first, of course, was the Budget. I know from my mailbag that many people in Burnley and Padiham have been waiting anxiously to see what the first Conservative budget for 18 years would look like and how it would impact on their lives. It seems that, for many, the anxiety was well-founded.
George Osborne made it very clear during his speech that public sector workers, low-paid workers (especially those with children), young people and benefit claimants would be most harshly affected by his priorities. It was a Budget dominated by taxes; cuts to tax credits supporting low-paid working people, while offering reductions in inheritance tax for the richest 6%. Corporation taxes have also been cut.
I was surprised to see the Government shift its responsibility for giving free television licences for the over 75s to the BBC, knowing perfectly well the BBC have no obligation to honour this arrangement long-term, meaning the elderly could be left picking up the bill. In common with many organisations, the BBC is required to make ‘efficiency savings’. I hope that, in spite of this, they will be able to afford to keep licences free for our senior citizens in the long term, as I know how much this is appreciated by many people in Burnley and Padiham, particularly those who live alone or have limited mobility.
I was interested to attend a debate in Westminster Hall on the subject of the conflict in Palestine. This conflict, which is having global repercussions, has gone on far too long and too many lives have been lost. It is important the British Government uses its influence to get the key players to the negotiating table.
After a busy week in Westminster, I dashed back up to the constituency just in time to attend East Lancashire Newspaper Education Awards evening at Burnley College. I was really pleased to join in celebrating the achievements of pupils and staff from local schools. I must make particular mention of the interval entertainment, provided by two of Burnley College’s sixth form students, which was very enjoyable.
Attention all Carers:
The other big issue this week has been my Private Member’s Bill. Many of you may know I am trying, through the bill, to obtain free hospital parking for carers. Support for this is growing but, if I am to be successful, I really do need your help. I know from my conversations with so many of you, that hospital car park charges are a problem for many carers, who often spend a lot of time hospital visiting. If you are a carer, and this is a problem for you, please get in touch and share your problem with me. Sometimes it is more than the charge (though these are quite hefty and can mount up) as I understand that visiting, particularly for extended hospital stays during winter months, can be quite stressful and distressing, and queueing for parking can sometimes feel like the last straw.
If I am to get this bill through government, I need plenty of evidence.