This has been a most unusual week in Parliament. On Tuesday we had the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee address to both Houses of Parliament held in Westminster Hall. I was fortunate to secure a ticket both for the address and the Reception afterwards where I was presented to His Royal Highness Prince Philip. I thought the Queen struck exactly the right note and it was certainly a memorable morning.
On Wednesday it was back to normal politics and the Budget Statement. Thousands of families on basic rate tax will have an extra £220 a year to spend as a result of the increase in the personal allowance.
The announcement of a further reduction in corporation tax was particularly welcome as we need profitable companies to create new jobs. The news that GlaxoSmithKline are going to build a new factory here in the North West and creat hundreds of new jobs was hopefully a first sign that corporate Britain will react positively to this news.
David Nuttall MP and Paul
On Friday I visited Action for Children’s The Extra Mile project to meet some of the young care leavers participating in an innovative national money management programme.
Action for Children is working in partnership with Barclays to deliver the Barclays Money Skills programme to young people who may be struggling to manage their finances, providing them with the tools and support needed to improve their money management skills and gain a better understanding of financial matters.
This year, Action for Children will support more than 2,500 of the UK’s most vulnerable young people to participate in Barclays Money Skills sessions, including young parents and young carers, those in youth clubs and training centres, and young people leaving care. Other UK charities involved in the initiative to reach more than one million people by the end of 2012 include the National Youth Agency, UK Youth, Youth Access and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
The support Action for Children and Barclays are giving young people in helping them get to grips with their finances is greatly appreciated. For many young people, it can be difficult to manage their money effectively. The Barclays Money Skills programme is a really practical way of equipping these young people with the knowledge and tools that will help them do this.
I have received a letter from the Minister at the Department for Transport confirming that the driving test centre in Bury is scheduled to re-open on 30th March.
The centre has been closed after water from a burst water pipe caused extensive damage. The Driving Standards Agency decided that at the same time as carrying our the essential repairs some work would be done to improve the facilities. I understand the revamped centre will be more energy efficient with better insulation, double glazing and motion sensitive lighting. Hopefully this will secure the long term future for the centre.
There has been so much written and spoken about this Bill and so many scare stories publicised that I am becoming increasingly concerned that those who depend on our NHS may start to believe some of the scare stories.
The Government believes in the NHS which is why the Government is guaranteeing it will always provide treatment when you need it regardless of the ability tp pay. Despite the need for the Country to start to live within its means because of the importance of the NHS the Government is increasing the resources available to the NHS. Spending on the NHS is being increased in real terms even though very difficult spending decisions are having to be taken in other departments.
The Bill shifts power to family doctors so they can obtain the best healthcare for their patients. The Bill scraps two layers of administrators ( the Strategic Health Authorities and the Primary Care Trusts) and the money they spend on health care will now go directly to groups of doctors. Doctors will decide how best to spend that money after discussing the matter with other health care professionals like nurses – These groups will be called Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s for short).
Doctors will be able to obtain the healthcare their patients need from the NHS and from other organisations but they must obtain the best treatment – not the cheapest – and the Bill encourages doctors to give their patients more choice. My view is that when someone is ill as long as their doctor is able to obtain the treatment they need to make them better it matters little to them whether that treatment is provided by someone employed directly by the NHS or someone else who is paid for by the NHS. Either way what matters to the patient is they get the best care they can and it is free at the point of need.
The new Bill also seeks to join up provision at a local level. Health and Well Being Boards will be set up which will bring together local healthcare providers from the NHS together with social care providers from the Council and those concerned about public health (in other words those concerned about trying to stop people becoming ill in the first place). All these groups will come together to make sure there is a joined up way of people healthy and making those have fallen ill better.
It is easy to forget that it was the last Labour Government that provided for private companies to provide healthcare for NHS patients. This Bill puts the NHS, not-for-profit organisations, charities and private sector health companies on the same footing.
For the first time the bill places a statutory duty on the NHS to reduce health inequalities. In 2005 the British Medical Journal said ‘The difference between life expectancy of the richest and poorest in our country is now greater than at any time since Queen Victoria’s reign’ and under the last Labour government the gap grew. The new Bill will make it law that the NHS must work together with others ( such as the local councils) to make sure people everywhere get the same level of care.
More information about the action the Government is taking to modernise our NHS can be found here
David visiting Boxlogix in Bury
On Friday in addition to paying a visit to Tottington High School I also visited Boxlogix a local company who provide vending machines for schools and colleges ( indeed any organisation that needs a vending machine!) . Whereas in the past vending machines would dispense pop, chocolate bars and crisps the vending machines of today contain only fruit drinks and snacks like natural cereal bars.
I also met with two other local businessmen during the day to discuss the problems they face as I continue to focus on the need to help local businesses grow and create jobs in the months and years ahead.