This week in Parliament I welcomed the Government’s increase of the state pension. For a large part of my adult life I have campaigned for a fairer and better deal for older people and their families. Like most people I was disgusted by the last Labour government’s treatment of pensioners, best illustrated by the 75p rise in the state pension. This week I honoured my manifesto pledge to improve the state pension with a 5.2% rise. This is the largest cash increase in the history of the state pension. Other important benefits to support people with disabilities and to assist those looking for a job were also increased by 5.2%.It is very important to me that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected from the very difficult financial situation we inherited.
I also joined Business Questions to support the point made by the Institute of Directors (IoD) that we should stop talking down the economy. Confidence in our economy is vital to our recovery and sustainable growth. A report for the IoD last week warned of the dangers of the constant ‘gloom and doom’ about the economy and stated that it was at odds with how most businesses now feel about the future.
The Federation of Small Businesses also published the results of ‘Voice of Small Business’ Member Survey 2012. The survey was conducted in November 2011 and had more than 11,000 responses and follows on from the previous Member Survey as the most extensive research into the small business sector during the downturn. The Member
Survey looks at the views of small businesses on an array of issues. 54.2% of small businesses in Cornwall are looking to grow over the next 12 months. Nationally businesses in the computer and related areas, engineering and manufacturing sectors expect an increase in full-time staff in the next 12 months.
These survey findings are borne out by the response from local businesses to my campaign to recruit 100 new apprentices in 100 days launched last week. Thank you to the companies who contacted me and those who are meeting with Cathie Kessell, the Cornwall co-ordinator for the National Apprenticeship Scheme. If you would like to know how you and your business can benefit from apprenticeships please contact Cathie 01752 754122
Finally, I am pleased to have been selected to join the Science and Technology Select Committee which is an important Parliamentary body responsibility for scrutinizing government policy in these areas. There are a range of important institutions in my constituency from the Peninsula Medical School and the School of Dentistry to the Environment and Sustainability Institute, located at Tremough along with University College Falmouth and the University of Exeter, whose work is helpful in informing Government policy. I am also a board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, which commissions independent academic research to support the work of Parliament.
I look forward to this new parliamentary role, and to continuing to play my full part in ensuring that the best possible evidence is used when making policy.