Last week I was on holiday in Italy with my wife Kathleen. As I prepare for a busy conference period and then months ahead.
I took time to reflect on things that have been happening in Westminster over the past few months and indeed in our wonderful town too.
Many constituents had contacted me about the Scottish referendum. I was delighted with the result and that we are still a United Kingdom with a united future. It made economic sense for us to keep together and allow us to continue to grow, create jobs and export within the UK and globally. Many companies in our town trade internationally and it is essential to keep in these crucial markets.
I am proud of the work my colleagues have been doing in Westminster with regards to pensions. The Liberal Democrats have increased pensions by £800 a year, thanks to our new ‘triple lock’ rule, which ensures state pensions always rise with inflation, earnings or 2.5% - whichever is highest. The state pension to around £144, protecting future pensioners with a fair, single-tier pension and guarantee nine
million people an automatic workplace pension.
Last week the Treasury said people with defined contribution pension savings will no longer have to worry about their pension savings being taxed at 55% on death from April 2015. Many of the concerns of my constituents are linked to this and I am proud that we are seeing reforms in this area.
Much of the other work in Westminster has been focussed on the economy. I am so delighted that unemployment is at 4.2% in our town. Growth is up; jobs are up; Government borrowing is down. I am very aware of the positive changes that have happened in our own town over the past few years and I do not want them to stop. My focus is on ensuring that as many people in our town have a job. I can see the difference the Pupil Premium is doing in helping those poorer children get a first-class education. Free school meals are in place and we have more and more apprenticeships giving young people a bright future. I continue to work closely and hear of all the fantastic achievements of young people at Burnley College.