I am in touch with my constituents on a daily basis. From the emails and letters I receive, and from the conversations I have on the phone, at advice surgeries, in the street and in the supermarket there is one overriding message- times are tough.
With the full ramifications of the 2008 financial crisis still being felt in our economy people are feeling the pinch. In homes across Truro and Falmouth families are having to make their money go further than ever before, a task made more difficult by the high cost of living in Cornwall.
Tackling these economic difficulties remains crucially important to me. I am pleased that this week the Government has re-affirmed its commitment to taking the hard decisions that will deal with the legacy of the 2008 crisis; ensuring that the legacy we pass onto our children and grandchildren is not a mountain of national debt, but a balanced and competitive economy.
I welcome the Government’s ongoing determination to ensure that whilst those with the broadest shoulders bear the biggest burden as our economy is stabilised, hard working families and pensioners are protected as far as possible.
This week it has been announced that Council Tax will be frozen for a third year in a row, saving the average family another £70. Council Tax freezes come on top of changes to Income Tax that means that twenty five million middle and low income taxpayers will be saving over £360 a year. Two million people on very low incomes have been taken out of Income Tax altogether.
A cap on rail fares will also be imposed, so that ticket prices will not rise by more than 1% above inflation. Meanwhile the freeze on fuel duty is ongoing, saving the average driver £160 by 2013.
When times are tough, having to give less money to the taxman and spending less on travel can make a real difference to hard pressed household finances.
I welcome a continued focus on protecting pensioners and people living with disabilities. The basic State Pension had its biggest ever cash increase this year, rising by 5.2%. Disability benefits have also been increased by 5.2%.
These measures are affordable due to the actions Ministers have taken to ensure that wealthier people are paying their fair share as efforts to reduce national debt are made. Changes to the tax system mean that the 1% of top earners in the UK, who earn 13% of all income, pay 28% of all total Income Tax.
This two-fold approach to the current economic situation, where people with low incomes are helped through the difficult times whilst the wealthiest play their full part in securing a prosperous future, has my full support.