Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Federation of Small Businesses welcomes Autumn Statement

The Federation of Small Businesses welcomes the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement as a step in the right direction to help small firms that are central to economic stability in the UK:
  • Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme - The FSB is pleased that the Government has enhanced the scheme which will offer greater reliefs on capital gains and income tax for people investing in small businesses. This will give start-ups and fledgling businesses the chance to by-pass the high street banks and find alternative sources of finance.
  • Credit easing – Extra funds should help to decrease the cost of finance for small firms and will hopefully increase the amount of lending to small businesses – especially with today’s figures from the Bank of England showing that lending fell in the last three months. However, the FSB has concerns that guaranteeing the loan books of existing high street banks may serve to reinforce their market position. The Government must therefore go further to promote the emergence of alternative forms of finance and greater competition in the banking sector.
  • Employment - Measures that will reduce the risk of taking on new staff and increase job creation are welcomed and an overhaul of the employment tribunal system is also a step in the right direction. But with youth unemployment rising to record levels, the Chancellor needs to do more to stop this becoming entrenched. The FSB suggested extending the Work Trials scheme and reducing NICs payments for micro businesses that take on a young person (aged 16-24).
  • Fuel Duty - Deferring January’s fuel duty increase is welcome, but a 3p rise is still coming and will hit small firms and households in August. The FSB is calling for a longer-term solution that not only takes the volatility out of fuel prices, but the politics as well. Small businesses need to be able to know what their overheads will be in six months time and that is why the FSB is calling for a true fuel duty stabiliser mechanism.
  •  Infrastructure - Plans to improve the country’s transport network are welcome. While these improvements will help small businesses, it is also vital that small firms are given the chance to win these contracts and other public procurement contracts.
  • Small Business Rate Relief - Based on September’s inflation figure, businesses would have seen a 10 per cent increase in their business rates over the last two years. An extension to small business rates relief will be welcomed by many small high street businesses as a way to help manage their overheads.
John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“Taken as a package, the announcements in the Autumn Statement address many of the concerns raised by small businesses and are therefore to be welcomed. The key now is for the Government to be consistent, and set to the task of translating these policy intentions into tangible actions on the ground.
“Targeting the rising cost of overheads is imperative to help firms weather the economic storm that could be heading our way, so measures to limit the rise in fuel prices and business rates are very welcome.
“Small businesses are struggling to access finance and so the enterprise investment scheme will open up new sources of finance for new and growing businesses. We hope that the banks will pass on the lower interest rates to small businesses and that more finance will be available.”

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Information for parents and carers concerned about the sexual exploitation of children

As part of its action plan to tackle child sexual exploitation, the Government is encouraging parents and those who work with children to access information which outlines how best to keep children safe from sexual abuse, and how to spot any signs  that sexual abuse may be be happening.

This information can be accessed through the below links:



Monday, 21 November 2011

Report into home care help published

I welcome the below Equality and Human Rights Commission report , published today. I worked closely with Baroness Greengross, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in the past and support her call for an end to poor care standards.

Combating high fuel costs

Last week I joined two important debates in Parliament. The first concerned reform of EU Fisheries Policy. While the concerns of the commercial fishing interests were well represented by colleagues from all around our shores – I was pleased to be able to highlight the importance of sea anglers. Before I was elected I campaigned against EU proposals which would have hindered the ability of local people catch and eat fish for their supper. Nationwide hundreds of thousands of people enjoy sea angling and this contributes £1 billion to the economy.

I was pleased that in responding to the debate, the Minister recognises the social and environmental benefits of recreational sea angling, and that the needs of sea anglers are at the heart of plans for the future of our coastal waters.

I was one of the MPs that pushed for a debate into the effects of increases in fuel prices on the cost of living and jobs. In the debate I was able to highlight the everyday issues of the costs of going about our lives in Cornwall where access to public transport is patchy. In the last Budget the Government did scrap the planned increase in fuel duty and I will continue to press for no further increases.

It is not only the impact of rapid rises in petrol and diesel prices that have been concerning but the cost for people living off the mains gas grid in Cornwall for heating their homes this winter. So far the mild weather has really helped but that will change. I have been working with CAB in Cornwall as well as housing associations and poverty forums to get information out to those that need it as to how they can save money on thier heating biils. There is help for people who need it but it is difficult to find. I have produced a ‘help sheet’ and I encourage everyone to make sure they have all the information to help themselves and thier family and friends to save money. The help sheet is on my website www.trurofalmouthconservatives.co.uk or call my office for a copy on 01872 274 760.

Some parts of the national media have been encouraging ‘better off’ older people to give their winter fuel payment to ‘poor older people’. I would urge anyone thinking of doing this to make sure their money is kept in Cornwall and send a cheque to Cornwall Community Foundation who have set-up a fund to receive donations and give the money to organisations and people in the duchy. Full details can be found on the ‘help sheet’.

Finally, I would like to mention the work of the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK, which campaigns to raise awareness of and support research into Pancreatic Cancer. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness  Month, intended to raise public awareness of a cancer that in the UK has a five year survival rate of just 3 percent. More information about Pancreatic Cancer UK , and the support services they provide for local people can be found on their website www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk or by calling 020 3535 7090.