Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - We must question if huge benefit bills make sense

First published in News

Last week I set out my New Year aims for the Devizes constituency. This week the Chancellor set out the choice facing Britain in 2014: to keep working through the government’s long-term economic plan to secure a better future for hardworking people or to go back to living beyond our means, leaving future generations to pay the bill.

The last government left Britain borrowing more than £400 million every single day to pay for government spending but, as a result of the difficult decisions we have taken, the deficit is down by a third and we’re borrowing nearly £3,000 less for every hardworking family in the country. But there’s still a long way to go.

We have got to make sure the economy keeps growing with real sustainable growth from trade and exports. There was more good news this week with the news that manufacturing keeps on growing and, in some areas, is at an all-time high. We also have to keep on top of public spending and keep assessing if the huge benefit bills in some spending areas make sense. Should unemployed under 25-year-olds receive housing benefit, for example, when those in work in the same age group can’t afford to leave home – yet are being taxed to pay for this benefit?

Like many I suffered a bit of damage at home as a result of the storms with my tally being some bushes blown flat and roof tiles missing but the floods that are lying in many parts of Wiltshire are a real cause for concern. The response of residents who donned hi-viz jackets to alert motorists to road problems, the active management of the situation by Wiltshire Council over Christmas and the proactive efforts of the Environment Agency to alert us to the problems have all been commendable.

However, the lack of communications from Scottish and Southern Electric when the power went out in Little Bedwyn and Froxfield and the delay in getting the power back on was unacceptable.

SSE has launched a consultation on its response to the storms at www.ssepd. co.uk/HaveYourSay/December2013StormConsultation but I have written to the chief executive requesting more information about this failure and suggesting that he think about using real time media like websites and Twitter to get information out when there is a problem.

I am also aware of the ongoing flooding issues in Great Bedwyn, and have written once more to Thames Water’s chief executive to request urgent remedial action.

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