£300 million extra to help local businesses

It’s been announced that the Regional Growth Fund, launched in 2010 by Nick Clegg, will be getting an extra £300 million to invest in local businesses.

So far almost £3 billion has been invested in regional companies through the fund, helping them to expand and take on more staff. Local businesses from any sector are able to apply for funding, with over £1.1 billion invested in manufacturing already.

The range of companies taking advantage of the RGF is simply astounding with everything from universities and aerospace companies to green energy producers. The variety of industries taking part in the scheme is testament to the Liberal Democrats desire to see balanced growth across the whole of the UK and not just in London.

In terms of funding the scheme, public money is being bolstered by private investment. For every £1 invested through the RGF, the private sector has put in £5.50 and the total investment of private sector support is expected to reach £16 billion.

The Regional Growth Fund has so far created over 100,000 jobs and a further 480,000 are expected by the mid-2020s.

Shared parental leave introduced

From this April, new rules brought in by Liberal Democrats mean that working parents will now be able to split up to 50 weeks of maternity and paternity leave between them however they like. This includes up to 37 weeks of paid leave and is on top of two weeks guaranteed paid leave for the mother.

Lib Dems believe that its important for parents to have the choice and flexibility to decide for themselves how they share caring for a newborn child and leave from work which is why we’ve ended the system where parents were much more restricted in what they could do. Fathers in particular were only allowed two weeks of paternity leave and could only take additional paternity leave if their partner returned to work.

Click here to calculate your parental leave allowance under the new rules.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem Minister for Business, Women and Equalities, who pushed for the changes writes:

“A couple might opt for father to take the entire 50 weeks of shared parental leave or to take an extra three or four weeks at home just after baby is born. A mother might take the first four months, with father taking over when she goes back to work, or a couple could opt to stay at home together for up to six months. Each family can now work out what will work best for them.

Shared parental leave will help to create a family-friendly culture in the workplace where it is just as normal for fathers and partners to take on childcare responsibilities as mothers. Mothers and adopters will have real choice about when they return to work, fathers will have more time to bond with their children, children will have better outcomes.”

8.3 million families benefit twice from Lib Dem tax cut, new analysis reveals

8.3m families will benefit twice from the Liberal Democrat tax cut, new analysis has revealed.

Thanks to Liberal Democrats increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,600, these families will on average be £1,330 better off each year.

New research using HM Treasury’s tax and benefit model shows that our flagship policy of increasing the amount that people can earn before they pay income tax is vital in creating a fairer society.

Income tax cuts for working people were a top priority for Liberal Democrats when we entered the coalition in 2010 and one which we are proud to have delivered for millions of people.

In government Liberal Democrats have fought tooth and nail to deliver a tax cut worth £825 for more than 26m working people – something which the Conservatives said was not affordable.

And by raising the personal tax allowance to £10,600 we have lifted more than 3m people out of paying tax altogether.

As well as helping families make their money go further we’re also lifting the lowest paid out of paying tax.

By April:

340,000 sales and retail assistants will no longer pay tax.

169,000 care workers and home carers will no longer pay tax.

162,000 cleaners will no longer pay tax.

136,000 catering assistants will no longer pay tax.

91,000 teaching assistants will no longer pay tax.

Lib Dems call for Introduction of speed cameras on the A3

Please sign the petition for the introduction of speed cameras to help stop accidents happening along the urban stretch of the A3. Speeding makes such accidents more likely and each time the delays brings traffic in the whole area to a standstill.

That’s why we at Guildford Lib Dems have started the petition calling for speed cameras.

There’s a 50mph speed limit on that part of the road which is frequently ignored. There are also a number of junctions, some of them with no slip roads, which make the A3 road even more dangerous.

There are plans to do work on the road, but those plans aren’t due to happen for some years.

Road users and people who live in Guildford cannot wait that long.

It is important that safety work is carried out without delay, and this must include speed cameras to uphold the speed restrictions.

So we are calling on the Highways Agency to install speed cameras and  safety signs in the Guildford urban section of the A3 as a matter of urgency.

Click here and sign our petition today.

£26.8 million boost for disadvantaged Surrey pupils

Lib Dems in government have announced disadvantaged primary school pupils in Surrey are going to receive £26.8 million to boost attainment.

This is an increase in pupil premium funding for 2015/16 which will help teachers support those children at most risk of falling behind their classmates.

So every primary school in Surrey, like Queen Eleanor’s in Onslow, will receive £1,320 for every pupil who has registered for free school meals at any time in the last six years.

This was a key Lib Dem policy in our 2010 general election manifesto and the evidence shows raising the attainment of pupils by the end of primary schools has a direct impact on future exam results.

As Kelly-Marie Blundell, our Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner for Guildford, says:

“Every child should be able to reach their full potential, whatever their background.

“The pupil premium will get extra money to schools in Surrey, targeted at the children who need it most.  The whole class benefits when fewer children are struggling.

“Teachers in Surrey do a great job, and I can’t wait to see how they use this additional funding to help all our children and young people succeed.”

Local Plan Fiasco

Guildford Borough Council’s Conservative administration have been forced to take the Local Plan back to the drawing board.

Following widespread public objections, the draft local plan for Guildford, which proposes building 2,500 homes on Blackwell Farm in the greenbelt north of the Hog’s Back, will be consulted on for a third time following May’s local elections. The first consultation took place over the summer and resulted in 18,000 comments from 6,500 individuals.

The news comes following a Lib Dem freedom of information request which revealed that the bungled plan to build 13,040 has already cost the taxpayer £250,000.

Guildford Liberal Democrats previously voted against the draft plan going out to the original consultation on the grounds that it was flawed and premature.

Onslow Lib Dem councillor Tony Phillips commented “Guildford Lib Dems voted against the draft Plan going out for consultation, it just wasn’t ready. We thought the consultation was premature and sadly we have been proved right. It cost a lot of money to run this consultation, and local taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill again next year.”

We’re now calling for two key changes to the Council’s approach to the Local Plan, to make sure that the Council gets it right this time:

  • The proposed housing target needs to be evaluated. It would lead to massive traffic congestion, environmental degradation and unnecessary loss of precious Green Belt countryside.
  • The Local Plan should be produced bottom-up: the Borough Council must consult and involve all Borough Councillors and the communities they represent in the preparation of the next draft.

Autumn Residents Survey

Do you have any views on local or national issues? What do you think should be priorities in Onslow? Are there any problems you’d like to let us know about? How do you think we do at representing you?

These are all questions we’re asking you in our latest residents survey.

We want to make our area a better place for all of us to live in and to do that we want to know what you think. So please respond to our survey to give us your views.

Fill in the survey here