Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Tax cut is an incentive to employ more young people

With the economy growing strongly at last, the Autumn Statement was able to include more good news than we’ve become used to.

The coalition government is abolishing employer National Insurance for those under 21, more than 11,000 of them here in Wiltshire. The number of young jobseekers in the Chippenham constituency has fallen by a quarter in the past 18 months, but there’s more to do. This tax cut will encourage more employers to take on young people, and should bring that number down further.

I had written to the Chancellor to express my constituents’ concerns about the cost of petrol and diesel, so I hope they will share my relief that next year’s fuel duty rise has been scrapped.

This means that petrol will be 20p per litre cheaper than it would have been under Labour’s plans. The permitted increase in rail fares has also been reduced to the rate of inflation.

The PISA rankings of school systems around the world showed that the UK still has a long way to go to keep up with the best-performing countries. As I highlighted in the Commons, one striking feature of those countries is that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve much better results.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats in government are focusing on helping schools stop those children falling behind. We have introduced the Pupil Premium, giving Wiltshire schools an extra £10 million this year.

I often find young people more engaged in the world around them than they are given credit for, so I made sure I attended the British Youth Council Awards to congratulate Kieran Mulvaney, Chippenham’s Deputy Member of the UK Youth Parliament, and Joy Wingrave of Corsham Youth Council as they received Youth Voice awards.

When peace talks between Israel and Palestine resumed in the summer, I was encouraged but also realistic about the huge obstacles they still face. Having visited the region last year, it was clear the talks would be jeopardised if Israel’s government continued to build settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I asked Foreign Office Ministers to make sure European trade policies help deter illegal settlement-building and give the peace talks the best possible chance of success.

My next surgeries will be at my office in Avonbridge House, Chippenham tomorrow, 9.30-11am and at Bradford on Avon library on Saturday, 9.30-11am.

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