Tuesday, 30 March 2010

We Will Stop Labour's Damaging NIC Increase

Mark Reckless has welcomed the announcement that a Conservative Government will stop Labour's tax rise on jobs by cutting waste.

"It is excellent that we will be reversing one of Labour's tax rises and reducing the National Insurance tax on jobs which both employers and employees have to pay. This will give people real confidence that we can deliver on what we say we and rely primarily on spending cuts and not extra taxes to close the deficit.

Well done George, and congratulations on your excellent and reassuring contribution to the debate against Darling and Cable last night."

Stopping the planned increases in National Insurance Contributions will result in 7 out of 10 working people being better off.

A Conservative Government will take immediate action to start cutting Government waste, in order to spend £6 billion less in 2010-11 than Labour's plans.

"The re-election of a Labour Government under Gordon Brown - with more debt, waste and taxes - will bring us a new recession", George Osborne said, speaking alongside Ken Clarke and Phillip Hammond.

"Labour will kill the recovery with their tax on jobs. We will cut Labour waste to stop it."

Former Government advisers Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Read, now members of the Conservatives' Public Sector Productivity Advisory Board, advise that savings of £12 billion across all departmental spending are possible in-year without affecting the quality of front line services.

Having identified these savings the Conservatives can now commit to stop Labour's tax rise on working people and jobs at the same time as reducing the deficit faster:

Labour are planning to raise Employees National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for everyone earning over £20,000. We will stop this increase altogether for everyone earning under £35,000 by raising the primary threshold at which people start paying NICs by £24 a week, and raising the Upper Earnings Limit by £29 a week.

Relative to Labour's plans everyone liable for Employees NICs earning between £7,100 and £45,400 - which is 7 out of 10 working people - will be up to £150 better off a year under the Conservatives. Lower earners will get the greatest benefit as a percentage of their earnings. Nobody will be worse off.

Labour are also planning to raise Employers NICs for everyone earning over £5,700. This is a tax on jobs that will undermine the recovery. We will raise the secondary threshold at which employers start paying NICs by £21 a week, saving employers up to £150 for every person they employ relative to Labour's plans. This will reduce the cost of Labour's tax rise on employers by more than half.

Read George Osborne's speech in full


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Friday, 26 March 2010

David Cameron's Pledge To Pensioners

David Cameron and George Osborne will today outline the Conservatives’ pensioner pledge for the General Election campaign.

The pledge includes a personal promise to protect the Winter Fuel Payment, free bus passes and TV licences, and the pension credit.

David Cameron’s Pledge To Pensioners

The Government I lead will make sure that older and retired people are treated with dignity and given the quality of life they deserve. This is my pledge to support pensioners.

My Government will:

- Increase the value of the basic state pension for all pensioners and help to stop the spread of the means test by linking pensions to earnings. You won’t get a repeat of Labour’s mean 75p rise with us.
- Freeze council tax for the next two years, in partnership with your council.
- Make it worthwhile to save for a personal pension and get rid of the rules that force people to get a compulsory annuity.
- Help people protect their home rather than have to sell it to pay for care.
- Take all family homes worth less than £1 million out of inheritance tax.
- Increase spending on the NHS every year, which is our number one priority.
- Cut paperwork so we get more police out on the beat fighting crime.

Our opponents are trying to scare older people by telling deliberate lies about our plans. So here is a personal promise, from me, about the things we will protect.

- I will protect your Winter Fuel Payment.
- I will protect your free bus pass and your free TV licence.
- I will protect the pension credit.

These vital benefits will not be cut under the Conservatives. You have my word on it.

If he wins the election, Gordon Brown wants to introduce a number of measures which will hit pensioners. A Conservative Government will not penalise pensioners, as Labour are planning to do:

- We will NOT introduce a ‘death tax’ of up to £50,000.
- We will NOT cut attendance allowance and disability allowance for the over 65s.

We can afford to make these pledges because we have found the money from other areas, like cutting government waste and bringing forward the date at which the state pension age will rise to 66.

Read David’s speech in full

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A Do Nothing Budget

I covered budgets as an economist until 1997 but count myself lucky not to have had to examine the entrails of Labour's 15 budgets professionally.

However, there can be no doubt that this budget does less than any budget in living memory. We have a 'do nothing' budget at a time when there has never been a greater need for action to restore confidence in our country.

David Cameron, who was on very strong form, could not have put it better in his response, saying:

"The risk is not in dealing with the deficit now but in not dealing with the deficit now - what we need is a credible plan to deal with the government's debts starting now".

It is bad enough that the government says it will borrow £167bn this year and then boasts that it is only 11.8% of GDP, although I suspect that they are erring on the side of caution and the plan is to announce an undershoot on the 22nd April and present an 11½% deficit as a triumph of Labour economic management!

What is truly shocking is that the government still insouciantly plans to borrow £163bn next year, over 11% of GDP for the second year running.

No wonder the pound is down a cent and a half and gilts are down over a point. The key point everyone needs to understand though is that the market reaction would have been far, far worse, except that they are betting that they will soon have a Conservative government to clean up Labour's mess.

A lot is riding on us and, as a candidate, I will be doing everything I can do over the next six weeks to help put David Cameron in Downing Street, so we can make a start on putting our country back on track.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Pumping Up The Cost Of Living

The AA has found that petrol prices are about to reach a record high. Petrol now averages £1.16 per litre, up from £1.12 in February and 89p early last year.

Ten years ago petrol protests almost brought the country to a halt when the price hit 80p and voters will certainly be noticing the latest price hikes under Labour when we go to the polls.

Tax on petrol went up another 2p last September and is due to go up again next month. Price hikes also reflect the falling level of the pound as markets took fright at some recent opinion polls showing a fall in the Conservative lead.

We need a strong Conservative government to restore confidence in our country.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Our Country Needs A Change Of Course


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Press Release re Rochester Castle

I was woken around 4.30a.m. on Monday in my home next to Rochester castle by a noise that was more of a crunch than the usual screech of a train. Later I found out that part of a supporting wall for the castle had collapsed on Baker's Walk and first reported around 5a.m.

I have spoken to Simon Curtis and members of his team at the council as well as a representative of English Heritage. I was pleased to see that the site was quickly made safe (picture attached). It is also good to know that when remedial work is completed the renewed supporting wall, unlike the previous concrete, should allow water through so that, hopefully, this will not happen again.

I understand a) that a preliminary estimate is that repairs may cost £20-30,000 and that b) English Heritage, rather than Medway Council, is legally liable for structural repairs to the castle.

I recognise the importance of maintaining a good partnership with English Heritage, as we currently have, but given a) and b) above, I believe that a proper business case should be made out if the Council is to contribute significantly to the costs of repairs.

Councillor Mark Reckless (Rochester West)
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Rochester and Strood


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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Boris Island Update

Mark Reckless, along with Medway Council, Kent County Council, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are leading the campaign to get this £40billion scheme blown out of the water due to its expense and the massive impact it will have on our area and the environment.

Responding to Medway Council's meeting with Boris's deputy today:

"In my experience people on the Hoo Peninsula don't take 'Boris Island' seriously. Boris has no power to build an airport here, no idea how to raise tens of billions to fund such a fantasy, and he should confine his activities to London.

The Conservative party does not support Boris Island and it is not party policy, as David Cameron recently confirmed when in Gillingham. Our focus is high speed rail."

Councillor Mark Reckless
Conservative Candidate for Rochester


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Five More Years...?