Category Archives: economy

Mark Reckless appointed UKIP economics spokesman

sw-uQRhTpbivrRc78iIyDvJcwJ27cF2E-6YGbaGFCnI

UKIP has today completed a mini reshuffle, with Mark Reckless being confirmed as the Party’s Economic Spokesman.

The former MP was a City Economist, and his past publications include ‘The Euro: Bad for Business’, ‘The Drivers of Regulation’ and Euromoney ‘Guide to the London financial markets’.

Mr Reckless said, “I am delighted to take up the economics role for the party. It is an exciting time with the European referendum now firmly on the horizon. One of the most important roles in that campaign will be to show to the British public the economic opportunities and advantages for British business and the wider economy when we leave the European Union.”

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage said, “This brings real world experience into our top team. Mark is an expert in his field and will be able to explain how the UK economy will benefit from EU exit.

“His appointment shows how the UKIP story has many more chapters to run”.

Marks priorities in his new role are set out below.

As UKIP’s economy spokesman I will make the non-socialist economic case against this Conservative government and put forward a better alternative.

Today’s employment data show the jobs market has been up and down in the past few months. But for the past five years there has been one major and consistent trend. The number of hours worked in the UK economy has greatly increased, but the output for each hour worked has barely changed.

It is that stagnant productivity that needs to change. Productivity growth of over 2% per year used to be the norm, but under Cameron and Osborne it has been near zero.

The non-socialist economic case I will be making against the government is that Britain needs three big changes:

  1. Deregulation. Not ‘better regulation’ or bureaucratic tweaks to add yet more complexity, but lifting the heavy and cumulative burden the state puts on business and enterprise. Taxes should also be simpler as well as lower. To set enterprise free we need to leave the European Union. We also need a government that backs markets, competition and enterprise, not big business corporatism.
  2. Banking and capital markets that work. Eight years after interbank markets froze in August 2007 we still haven’t dealt with the problems. Interest rates still at 0.5% and a quarter of government debt is owned by the government itself through the Bank of England. This means savers are not rewarded and capital fails to flow to more productive firms. Hence productivity still stagnates.
  3. Control immigration: an economic issue. An unlimited supply of cheap labour from overseas weighs on productivity. We need instead to train and invest in our own workforce to improve skills and productivity and hence wages. We also have to deal with our current deficit, at 6% the joint highest in the OECD. This means tackling not only our trade performance, but an investment balance skewed by printing too much money, and runaway ‘transfer’ payments e.g. overseas aid, EU contributions and migrant worker remittances.

Pushing for a proper HS1/HS2 link

I was proud to vote for HS2 with the majority of 452 against 41 just before 11.30pm last night.

An hour before I was the penultimate backbencher to speak, with the benefit of the Chamber beginning to fill before the ministerial wind-up speeches and votes, and made the case for a proper HS1/HS2 link.

The government needs to understand the benefits are at least as much about cross-London domestic travel e.g. from Ebbsfleet and Stratford to Old Oak Common, Heathrow, Birmingham and beyond as they are about a direct link between cities to the north and Europe – see Greengauge21 report here.

I believe I made progress making that case to ministers while making the positive case for HS2 overall. Not everyone seemed to know how conservative HS2 had been in calculating benefits or allowing a £14 billion contingency that is 95% likely to be underspent.

I also have no answer from opponents of HS2 who claim that only London will benefit and the north will be harmed by cutting the journey time from Manchester to London from just over two hours to just over one hour. If they truly believe that, why don’t they campaign to double the minimum journey time to over four hours, or have a man walk in front of the trains with a red flag, to really get the economy going?

Loan sharks could cost you an arm and a leg, warns Mark Reckless

WP_20140404_033

Mark Reckless is warning local residents in Rochester and Strood that borrowing money from illegal loan sharks could cost them an arm and leg as part of a national campaign to tackle this on-going menace in our communities.

The campaign, run by the England Illegal Money Lending Team which has teamed up with Medway Council Trading Standards, is warning against resorting to loan sharks while also encouraging members of the public to report potentially illegal lending in order that action can be taken against the sharks.

Mark met up with campaign organisers in Rochester High Street to discuss the problems surrounding unlicensed money lenders and the devastating impact which it can have on vulnerable residents and families.

WP_20140404_032Speaking after the meeting, Mark Reckless said:

“Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable and weak in our society, offering nothing but misery to those they ensnare.

People who are facing financial difficulties should seek support and advice from reputable agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau as soon as possible. Sadly many don’t and end up paying extortionate rates of interest or, worse still, harassment and threats of violence.

I think that’s wrong and I would urge constituents who have any information on unlicensed money lenders to shop them so we can stop them by reporting them anonymously to 0300 555 2222.”

A spokesman for the campaign added;

“An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark.

These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt.

As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.

Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying.

Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random – the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to 131,000 per cent APR. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.”

For confidential help and advice contact the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222 or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

VIDEO: Welfare debate 26th March 2014

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): We have to make these cuts because the expenditure has been unmanaged. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer) says, for the first time there will be more within the supposed “annually managed” category than the amount that is subject to departmental expenditure limits. The measure that the Chancellor has brought before us today will mean that for the first time this £120 billion of public spending will be properly managed annually by the Treasury and will be subject annually to a vote of this House.

Imagine the Home Office or the Department for Transport letting it slip out that it was spending £1.5 billion more than previously planned. The first thing a Minister must do if a budget is exceeded is bear down on it, find out why, do something about it, and, if necessary, find another area of the departmental budget where savings can be made. If absolutely necessary, they must go to

26 Mar 2014 : Column 391

the Chancellor and see whether they can make a case for a proportion of the strictly limited contingency reserve.

Mr Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) said and at no point during her speech did she think about the other side of the coin: the people who have to pay the bills. They were the people referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) and the Chancellor. They have needs and requirements. Many low-paid people have to pay the bills, but she never mentioned them once.

Mark Reckless: As we learnt in the Budget, the amount we will spend on benefits for the disabled—as the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey), will know well—is £1.5 billion more than was estimated in the autumn statement just three and a half months ago. In the past, we would have just ignored that and borrowed the extra money without even debating it in this House, but at least now we must have a debate.

The OBR expects that that money will be clawed back over the next couple of years—we will spend a similar amount extra next year, but not the following year. If that estimate is not right, however, surely we as MPs, representing the taxpayer and those who benefit from other benefits and from the NHS, must look into that and ask what we can do about it. Many people who are applying for the personal independence payment or employment and support allowance come to my surgeries and I see cases to which I am sympathetic and in which I think a misjudgement has been made in the assessment. The OBR might be right about what the spending will be—I am not saying that we should reduce eligibility for those benefits or that that is where the reductions must fall—but if it continues to increase we must either borrow the extra money, raise taxes, as the Opposition might wish, or find savings elsewhere.

Constituents of mine who, if they were lucky, were getting a 1% wage increase earlier in this Parliament were seeing people on benefits getting increases above 5%. In the five years since 2007, benefit payments increased by 10% relative to increases for those people who were in work. This year, for the first time, we have a 1% limit. Inflation has come down: it is now 1.7% rather than nearly 3%, as it was when we introduced this measure. I do not want to make further reductions to welfare benefits, but if payments to people who are disabled are £1.5 billion more than we thought they would be this year and if that continues to rise, we must make a decision about the priorities and where we want to make savings. Alternatively, should we just have more taxes and more borrowing, as the Opposition would like?

The other important principle of the measure before us is that the Chancellor is returning the control of spending to Parliament. Parliament used to debate the Government estimates in detail, but now the last thing that we debate on estimates day is anything to do with spending. Between the wars, Parliament lost that power

26 Mar 2014 : Column 392

and since then we have seen an explosion in state spending. We are spending £120 billion. It would be good news if spending came in below that, and the Treasury would not have to come to us for permission to spend more taxpayers’ money. But if spending is more than 2% above the projected figure there ought to be a debate and a vote in this House about whether to accept that.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con): My hon. Friend is making an extremely elegant point. Is it not true that the Labour party’s positioning of itself as the welfare party has betrayed those who depend on the welfare system in two ways? First, it has meant that money required for those most in need is spent on those who are not most in need and, secondly, it has entrenched and locked hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable families into dependency on welfare, which is the great tragedy of the welfare state that the Opposition have supported.

Mark Reckless: My hon. Friend is completely right. The Labour party used to be the workers’ party, but it has become the welfare party. It has become the defender of the public sector. When Parliament discussed these matters 90 years ago and before, the radicals were those who were trying to control Government spending and who were standing up for the taxpayers—the people in their constituencies—and trying to reduce the amount of money that Ministers were spending on their behalf. Today, all we see from the Labour party is a defence of welfare spending and of whatever is paid in the public sector while our constituents, who have to pay for all that and who are often on very low incomes, are ignored. For the first time, we are considering the comparison between what we are spending on welfare and what we need to do with that money elsewhere.

I wholeheartedly support this House’s having its say on spending. There is an excellent precedent for such a debate in Parliament. The Government came to the House with a motion saying that we should freeze spending within the European Union, but the House looked at the motion, decided that that was not good enough and that we wanted a cut. We voted for one, and the Government went out and delivered it. Parliament took control of spending.

Previously, spending in the welfare area covered by the £120 billion has gone up and up, and people have said, “Oh well, there is a problem and we will have to spend more on these disabled claimants, but we are sympathetic to them so that is fine. We will just borrow the extra money.” For the first time, we will be forced into making a decision about what we can do to get proper control of public spending, represent our constituents and stand up for the taxpayer. Not only has the Chancellor brought in the fiscal watchdog and reformed pensions, but, in this third area, he will be remembered for restoring control of spending to Parliament.

An inspired Budget for Rochester and Strood

200241_10150165354751068_5938208_nMark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, has welcomed the budget unveiled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday.

In response to the 2014 budget, Mark said:

“This is an inspired budget extending choice and freedom for savers and pensioners to the benefit of all. Labour say that people cannot be trusted to look after their own money. Conservatives believe that people are better than government at deciding what it best for them and their family. 

That is why we are liberating pension funds and ISAs so that the people who paid into them decide how best to use them, whether City vested interests like it or not. We can do this because the state single tier state pension starting from 2016 will provide most in the future with an assured income above the level for means tested benefits.

I welcome the increase in the tax-free personal allowance to £10,500 which will take more out of tax entirely while also benefitting those on middle incomes. 

Our campaign to treat bingo players fairly paid off, while Kent Air Ambulance and potentially Rochester Cathedral are also deserving beneficiaries of the budget.”

Our goal is to build a more secure future for Britain’s families, and this budget takes us another step towards it.

  • Next year, you will pay no income tax at all on the first £10,500 of your salary. This will be a tax cut for 25.4 million people across the country – making you and your family more financially secure.
  • We’re helping 1.5 million savers by abolishing the 10p starting rate on income from savings, and allowing them tax-free savings income of up to £5,000. This will mean a more secure future for savers and their families.
  • We are helping you save for a home, for retirement or for your family’s future. We are reforming cash ISAs and stocks & shares ISAs into a single New ISA so that you can choose to save as you want, and we are raising the annual limit to £15,000.
  • We are supporting parents in work by increasing the Tax Free Childcare cap to £10,000 – meaning you could get up to £2,000 for childcare costs every year for each child.
  • We are helping you save for your children’s future, by increasing the amount of money that can be put into children’s saving schemes.
  • We’re helping to ensure you enjoy security and peace of mind in retirement, with the most far-reaching reform to the defined contribution pension tax system since 1921 – including removing all remaining tax restrictions on how pensioners access their defined contribution pension pots (from April 2015).
  • No longer will anyone be forced to buy an annuity, there will be no punitive 55% tax rate if you take more than your tax-free lump sum and we will ensure that everyone who retires on defined contribution pensions will be offered free, impartial, face-to-face advice on how to get the most from their options.
  • We are setting up a new £200 million pothole fund to help commuters and local businesses. Your council can bid for money to mend the potholes in local roads.
  • We’ve taken another penny off your pint by cutting beer duty by 1p.
  • We’re reducing the deficit, so we deal with our debts, safeguard our economy for the long term and keep mortgage rates low.
  • Backing business to export more, invest more, and manufacture more so that Britain is a country that can pay its way in the world.
  • By backing business and enterprise with better infrastructure and lower taxes, we’re helping them to create more jobs – and giving more people the security of a pay packet each month.
  • We’re capping welfare so our economy delivers for hardworking people who want to play by the rules.
  • We’re freezing fuel duty to help hardworking people and businesses.

This all means you and your family are more economically secure and can look forward to a brighter future with peace of mind.

MP welcomes £600,000 funding for High Street regeneration

WP_20140311_002Mark Reckless MP has welcomed the announcement that a scheme which aims to regenerate and revitalise a significant stretch of Rochester and Chatham High Street is to receive a substantial government grant.

Medway Council has been successful in its bid to the Coastal Communities Fund for funding of £598,525 which should deliver a huge boost for the cultural and creative scene in Medway alongside potentially providing up to 140 new jobs.

The two key sites on which the scheme will be focusing are the disused railways arches at Bath Hard Lane, which will be transformed into a cultural hub with studio and performance spaces, and Sun Pier House, which will benefit from a new lift to improve access for the disabled.

Speaking after hearing news of the grant, Mark Reckless said:

“I welcome the announcement that Medway Council has been successful in its bid for funding. The lower end of the High Street which runs between Rochester and Chatham has long been a priority for investment. I look forward to seeing the improvements which are made and the jobs and training opportunities which are created as a result of this investment into my constituency and our historic High Street.

My congratulations to everyone involved in the successful bid.”

Cllr Andrew Mackness, Conservative member for River ward, added:

“This further investment in the development of the Riverside area and High Street areas of Chatham and Rochester  is welcomed. It follows continued efforts by Cllr Mackinlay and myself to ensure that investment and the creation of jobs in  River ward is at the forefront of the work of the Conservative administration in Medway .We will continue to challenge colleagues to build on the exciting opportunities which exist in Medway for all its residents.”

Fort Horsted: A hidden gem in my constituency

WP_20140308_052

Mark Reckless joins Horsted Park residents and Rochester South and Horsted councillors for visit to Fort Horsted

Mark Reckless was delighted to visit Fort Horsted Business Centre, one of Kent and Medway’s best kept secrets.

Work on Fort Horsted, the largest of the five local forts constructed to defend Chatham dockyard (the others being Darland, Twydall, Luton and Bridgewoods – also known as Palmerston’s follies), commenced in 1880 using a convict labour force from the newly constructed Borstal prison and supervised by the Royal Engineers. Fort Horsted lies approximately three miles away from the principle target of Chatham dockyard meaning invaders would have to get through the ring to attack the target.

WP_20140308_005

Mark Reckless with Rochester South and Horsted ward councillors

For the next 60 years the Fort remained in military hands with a small garrison from the Royal Ordnance Corps and latterly the Royal Artillery in continuous occupation. By the early sixties however the military no longer had any use for the Fort and it was sold for £10,000 to a development company in 1963.

During the next 34 years the Fort had a variety of owners and tenants and by the early 1990s the Fort was all but deserted, derelict and in much need of attention. English Heritage and the Environment Agency issued an enforcement notice on the legal owners with a £1,000,000 liability to clear up the site. Instead, the owners put up the Fort for auction and it was bought by Avondale Environmental Services Ltd in 1997.

Having decided that the future for this historic monument lay in it being able to sustain itself in terms of income generation and investment, a business plan was put to English Heritage and the Environment Agency to not only clear the site but also to develop it into small business units. By staying within government guidelines for the restoration and renovation of historic sites and keeping all works in character, English Heritage relaxed its normally strict rules and considered relatively modern proposals.

English Heritage continued to support Avondale during the next four years as it cleared the tyres and put the Fort back to a habitable condition. Avondale was finally able to occupy the Fort in August 2001 and begin the next chapter in its long life.

On April 26th 2007, Phase One of Fort Horsted Business Centre was officially opened for business. 6 refurbished business units became available on flexible lease terms together with state of the art conference facilities and a reception area.

WP_20140308_038

Mark Reckless enjoys the panoramic views over Medway with Fort Horsted owner Andy Back and Paul Coutts-Smith

Speaking after his visit, Mark Reckless said:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Fort Horsted which truly is a hidden gem within my constituency.

The site has enjoyed something of a chequered past so it was pleasing to see how the current owners have invested in the Fort and are breathing new life into this ancient monument. As well as offering business units and conference facilities to rent or hire on very attractive terms, it is also enjoying a new lease of life as an attraction for groups of visitors, hosting fashion shows, ghost hunts and exclusive parties.

I was hugely impressed by the vision shown by the current owner of the site, Andy Back. A huge amount of time, effort and money has been invested in Fort Horsted with the objective of using it to its full potential as a unique business centre creating an island of excellence in partnership with other local agencies such as the nearby Innovation Centre.

I was very impressed with the work which they have done so far and I wish them continued success for the future. My thanks also to our hard working ward councillors in Rochester South and Horsted, who are working closely with Fort Horsted and local residents in Horsted Park, for organising our visit.”

WP_20140308_027Rochester South and Horsted ward councillor, Cllr Trevor Clarke, added:

“It was a pleasure to have Mark join us for another of our tours of the Fort together with some of the ward’s newest residents from the neighbouring Horsted Park development. We have been working closely with Fort Horsted for the last couple of years to enhance connections with the local community and business sector and this has afforded opportunities for our residents to enjoy this wonderfully quirky old fort that is tucked away on the edge of The Horsted Valley.

As part of this community tie-up, our local schools will later this year be offered for the first time ever, the chance to visit and undertake exciting science and history projects there. As ward councillors, we very much appreciate the commitment of the Fort’s owners to working with and supporting the local community.”

For more information on Fort Horsted Business Centre – Click Here