Constituency Day Round-Up: 31st August

Michael had a very busy constituency day on Friday 31st August. First, he met Jill Roberts, Chief Executive at West Kent Mind, to discuss progress and was delighted to learn that they had increased their funding on last year and were running at full capacity.

West Kent Mind are working on several new initiatives, including meeting local schools agencies to try to detect early signs of mental health in children and prevent it. West Kent Mind now also run counselling services for those who have suffered loss (not just bereavement), and have expanded their work into Ashford. For more information on the fantastic services West Kent Mind run, visit here: https://westkentmind.org.uk/

West Kent Housing Association

Swiftly after that, he visited White Oak Court in Swanley where the West Kent Housing Association (WKHA) and Sevenoaks District Council (SDC) have set up self-contained apartments as part of their ‘Starts at Home’ sheltered housing scheme.

Michael met residents and received a tour of the apartments along with local councillors. County Councils are increasingly asking planning authorities to factor extra care housing such as White Oak Court as alternatives for more expensive residential care homes.

Brexit

Michael held his regular monthly surgery in Sevenoaks, helping constituents with a range of issues, before he addressed local Conservative Party members at the Sevenoaks Town Council offices about Brexit and the Prime Minister’s Chequers Deal.

Michael took questions for 90 minutes on the current state of Brexit negotiations, and local members were free to air their views in a lively discussion.

WKHA event.1

Fallon Calls for Fairer Economy

Michael called for a ‘fairer economy’ from the backbenches in the debate on the Autumn Budget yesterday.

The local MP welcomed a range of measures from the Chancellor, supporting longer-term and additional money for the NHS.

He called for further action in four specific areas:

First, he argued that the National Insurance threshold should be raised in line with the income tax one. He pointed out that some low paid workers are paying as much in NI contributions as they are income tax.

Second, he highlighted the need for companies like Amazon and Google to pay their share of rates and tax, asserting that Britain ‘shouldn’t have different economies for the big and the small.’

Third, he pointed out that when Margaret Thatcher left government in 1990, 11 million people owned shares. Today, however, only 8 million do. He called for tax breaks for companies that offer free shares to employees and for discounted shares to be offered to the public when the government’s stake in RBS is sold off.

Finally, the Sevenoaks MP advocated a more vigorous push from Government for exports, noting, ‘outside the Single Market, we’re going to live and die by what we sell’.

‘A fairer economy, much wider employee share ownership, exporting at the heart of every government industrial policy, these are some of the steps towards our new economic future’, Michael suggested.  ‘Muddling along, mere managerialism will not be enough.’

Concluding his speech, Michael added: ‘Brexit Britain requires a bigger vision, more confident, outward-looking, self-rewarding.  Let’s build on this Budget to enable Britain to be bolder still.’

Michael Impressed by Global Reach of Small Business

 

Michael recently visited Old St Andrews, a small firm that packages Scotch Whiskies, gins, and vodka.

He was met by the Managing Director, Bob Gorton, and other members of the office and warehouse team.  He was given a private tour and learnt more about the business.

MF meeting OStA workers in the warehouse packaging bottles

Old St Andrews is a small company located in Kemsing but it has clients all over the world, which Bob marks with little red dots on a world map in his office.  It exports vodka to Poland, gin to Europe, Scotch Whisky to Turkey, and Kosher whisky to Israel. Around 80 per cent of its business is in exports, and it is ranked as one of the best businesses on Amazon.

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Michael said: ‘I was surprised at how varied the firm’s product range is.  There is a real story here.  This small business works from tiny premises in a local business Park, but it is an impressive globally-recognised brand.  I spoke with Bob about the firm’s future in uncertain times and how he will still be able to employ the overseas skills he needs.  I am committed to ensuring that businesses like Old St Andrews are able to flourish, trading inside and outside the European Union.’