I WOULD like to begin by wishing readers a very Happy New Year.
2012 will be a difficult year to top for Great Britain, with the success of the Olympics and Queens Diamond Jubilee. It was a year of incredible sporting achievements; 29 Olympic and 34 Paralympic Gold Medals, Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France, and as a Scotsman I have to mention Andy Murray at the Wimbledon Final. Locally, Greg Rutherford has been an inspiration and I hope the legacy of this great year of sport will encourage more young people to take up sport in 2013.
2012 also saw some encouraging economic signs locally. Unemployment has fallen and MK has topped the table of economic growth. However, we must do more to ensure our young people can find the types of jobs to which they aspire. To this end, I am organising a Jobs Fair with MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster. The event, targeted at young people aged 16-25, will be held on January 31 from 3-8pm at The Buszy in CMK. It is being organised with Milton Keynes Council, Connexions, Jobcentre Plus, Milton Keynes College and the Skills Funding Agency. It will be a great opportunity for employers to showcase job opportunities with companies like John Lewis, Barclays Bank and Network Rail on site.
Keeping with the topic of youth employment, I was pleased by the Prime Minister’s announcement last week of additional support for the next generation of young entrepreneurs. The Start-up Loans scheme is to receive a £30million boost, taking the total pot to over £110million over the next three years. In addition, the upper age limit for those who can apply for loans has been raised from 24 to 30 years in response to demand from those who had previously just missed out on the scheme.
So far, over 3,000 people have applied or registered interest for a Start-up Loan. These budding entrepreneurs will receive support to develop their ideas and, when their business plan is robust and has been approved, they gain access to a loan of around £2,500.
I am also pleased the Government is taking steps to tackle the many social issues constituents often raise with me. The PM has announced a review into funding for long term care for the elderly. This pledges to provide dignity in old age and includes an improved state pension and help towards the cost of long term care. The aim is to help stop pensioners being forced to sell their homes to cover costs of care.
There are also proposals to help further with the cost of childcare. One of the first steps the Government took was to extend free early education to 15 hours a week for all three and four-year-olds. I am pleased this is going to be extended to all two-year olds from low income families, starting with the poorest 20 per cent in 2013 before extending it to 40 per cent in 2014. This goes alongside a £2m fund to provide grants to assist those wishing to set up childcare businesses.
In 2013 I will also continue to visit as many of the excellent community organisations and charities who work tirelessly to make MK such a pleasant place to live. If readers know of a community project they think I should be aware of, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Once again, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to helping constituents resolve any issues they may raise in 2013.
Tel: 01908 686830
Postal address: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA