Norman Baker welcomes Lib Dem successes in the Spring Budget

When I talk to people in my constituency, they often ask me what I am doing as their MP to help in their daily lives. I am proud that this week’s Budget is yet again cutting taxes for ordinary people and slashing childcare costs for parents.

At the last election the Liberal Democrats’ top priority was to give low and middle earners a £700 tax cut. And we’ve delivered. From this April, for the first time ever, nobody will pay income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. This is helping 36,880 people in my Lewes constituency.

As the economy continues to recover, I think it’s important that we make sure everyone can share in the economic benefits. That’s why from April 2015, we’ll increase the personal allowance yet again, putting another £100 back in people’s pockets. This means the total Lib Dem tax cut will then be worth £800 a year.

While the Conservatives were campaigning to cut tax for the richest 15%, I am proud that we have ensured the Coalition delivers our top pledge to help ordinary working people by increasing the personal allowance. And we have done this four times faster than Labour managed during their 13 years in government.

Income tax is not the only way the Liberal Democrats are helping cut living costs. We want to do everything we can do help reduce the cost of childcare for parents. That is why Nick Clegg announced new tax-free childcare to save working parents up to £2,000 per child.

From next year, working parents will be able to get 20p from the government for every 80p they spend on childcare. This will help 2660 families in my constituency, and around 2 million families across the UK. I am delighted that we have been able to introduce this support on top of the 15 hours a week of free early years education that we have already introduced for 3 and 4 year olds.

All of these changes have been possible because the Liberal Democrats put aside any narrow Party interest back in 2010 to form a stable Coalition government. By producing a long term economic plan, the Lib Dems have been able to deliver tax cuts which are building a stronger economy and a fairer society.

‘Lib Dem Minister of the Year’ award goes to local MP

Local MP Norman Baker has received an award at the Asian Voice Political and Public Awards. Award winners are nominated by the readers and supporters of Asian Voice newspaper with winners being selected by a panel of independent judges. Keith Vaz MP, one of this year’s judges, praised Norman for bringing “vast knowledge and new ideas to the Home Office.” During his time at the Home Office Norman has been working combating violence against women, to eradicate FGM, reducing the use of animals in scientific research and improving the effectiveness of the country’s drug policies.Norman at the Political and Public Life Awards

The award is the latest in a series of awards since Norman became an MP, including Channel 4’s Opposition Politician of the Year and The Spectator’s Inquisitor of the Year as well as last year’s Outstanding Contribution to Transport, presented to him on his leaving the Department for Transport at the National Transport Awards.

The Asian Voice newspaper was founded 40 years ago and, over the years, has been at the forefront of reporting on stories and issues that directly relate to the UK’s ethnic minority communities.

The award was won last year by Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Norman Baker MP says:

I am very honoured to be given this award and it is very gratifying to receive such recognition for my work in the Home Office, despite having only been there for less than six months. I hope that the work I am doing, and continue to do, will make a real difference to people’s lives, especially to the most vulnerable in society and those who have suffered as the victims of crime.”

Local MP welcomes latest unemployment figures

Norman Baker has welcomed the latest figures showing unemployment in the Lewes constituency is down to just 2.2% of the economically active population (compared with an average for the South East of 5.2% and 7.2% nationally). Locally, the number of unemployed has fallen by 247 since January last year.

The number of people claiming JSA decreased by 27,600 between December 2013 and January 2014, to 1.22 million people aged 18 or over. This is the lowest monthly claimant count since December 2008. There are 327,600 fewer people claiming JSA than in January 2013, the largest annual decrease since March 1998.

Notably, the female employment rate was 67.2% in October-December 2013, the highest rate since current records began in 1971.

Norman says:

“It is encouraging to see a continuing upward trend of people entering employment. This can only help in pulling us out of the economic downturn, both at a national level and in the local area. Quarter by quarter, job by job we are rebuilding Britain’s economy. Every job created is a family helped and a boost to our economic growth. This, combined with the encouraging news on inflation earlier this week, is further convincing evidence of the key Lib Dem contribution being made to stability and growth in our country.”  

Lib Dem control of the council beckons after election of Sarah Osborne as group leader. Will Ruth O’Keeffe vote to support her or to retain the Tory majority?

Independent councillor Ruth O’Keeffe will have the deciding vote on the future of Lewes District Council following a meeting last night (Monday) in which local Lib Dems voted to make Sarah Osborne, councillor for Plumpton, Streat, East Chiltington & St John Without, the new leader of the Lib Dem group on the council.

Norman, Nick Clegg & Cllr Sarah Osborne

Norman, Nick Clegg & Cllr Sarah Osborne

With Cllr James Page standing down next week from his position as Leader of the council, a vote will be called for a replacement. This follows the recent sacking of Cllr Rob Blackman as Deputy Leader of the Council and his removal from his cabinet position. All opposition councillors have raised concerns about the lack of transparency in decision making and only a united vote of opposition councillors could put an end to a Tory administration, providing a step in the right direction to a more open council. Insiders calculate the vote could be a 20-20 split with Ruth having the deciding vote on whether to keep the Tories in power.

Local Lib Dems have proven that they understand Lewes better than the Conservatives, including opposing the current Tory administration’s proposal to sell off the iconic Lewes House. The Lib Dems are looking to inject more favourable policies for the area like the proposal from Cllr Osborne to invest in the construction of new homes to alleviate the problems currently faced by locals seeking affordable housing. So far the Tories have not kept to the affordable house building targets that they have set themselves leaving over 2,000 people languishing on council house waiting lists.

Cllr Osborne says:

“I have pledged to keep Lewes House open to the public and in council hands. With a united opposition, fairer policies can be passed by the council helping the worst off residents across Lewes District.”

Norman Baker MP says:

“Ruth O’Keeffe must know that her vote will decide whether Lewes has a Tory or Lib Dem District Council. Ruth and other district councillors have to announce whether they will support the Lib Dems who are fighting to increase the availability of social housing and improve the flood defences in the area. As an independent councillor Ruth O’Keeffe cannot sit on the fence for this one. People in Lewes have a right to know how she will vote next Wednesday.

“Having a new leader for the Lib Dem group offers an opportunity to renew the fight against the worst of the Tory policies. With cross party agreement the most unpopular decisions can be blocked, that is why I am calling on the remaining councillors to make their positions clear.”