Nick Herbert: Policies about spending public money wisely

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The 1st of this month isn’t just April Fools’ Day. It’s also when Council Tax becomes due. After the mammoth increases of past years, it will have been a relief to many that the bills haven’t risen this year.

Our County Council, District Councils have all - with the Government’s help - frozen their bills. So has the newly elected Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner - a contrast with the outgoing authority.

This is a timely reminder of the worth of well run local councils which put value for money first.

April is also the start of the new financial year when tax changes come into effect.

From this Saturday, the personal allowance – the amount of money you can earn before you start to pay tax – will rise substantially, from £8,105 to £9,440.

Nine out of ten working households will be better off as a result, and the average working household will be better off by over £300 a year.

As a result of the Budget, the personal allowance will be increased further, to£10,000.

Nearly 3 million more people will pay no income tax at all. Working families will pay £700 less in tax than when the Government came into office.

Also this month, the much-debated reforms to welfare begin to take effect.

Of course a civilised society should help those who need it. But most of us recognise that the benefit system had got completely out of control.

Some families received up to £100,000 per year in housing benefit. A new cap means that nobody can receive more than £20,800 a year: still a generous amount.

During the last few years, benefit payments have increased three times more than salaries. When public and much of the private sector pay is being frozen, it’s only fair that benefit uprating will this year be limited to 1 per cent.

The ‘spare room subsidy’ issue has been controversial, but look at the facts. There are 1.8 million families waiting for social housing, and yet there are 1 million spare rooms across the sector.

If you live in private rented accommodation and receive housing benefit, you don’t get money for a spare room, so why should you in public accommodation?

These policies are about fairness spending public money wisely, and being on the side of people who work hard.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or e-mail me at nick@nickherbert.com