Monday, 24 December 2012

Cameron’s Religious Christmas Message Shows Britain has Regained its Confidence

David’s Cameron’s Christmas message comes at the end of one of the most patriotic and heartwarming years for our country in recent memory. In his address, it is fitting that Cameron should choose to reference our Christian heritage by using quotes from the bible, a signal of his personal faith, but also his love for Britain’s history and identity. Although those on the left will undoubtedly claim that these references are offensive and divisive, they are actually a signal that Britain is at peace with itself, and more confident and passionate about its religious and cultural history and the rich and diverse society in which we now live.

There is no better example of our country’s diverse talents than the Olympics, a towering example of Britain at its best. Our heroes who achieved extraordinary athletic achievements came from different backgrounds, religions and cultures, but above all they were British. The same can be said from the wonderful Jubilee party I attended in my ward of Waddon, so many people had come out in the early hours to prepare the bunting, bake the cakes and set up the tables, for everyone to enjoy the day. 

2012 will be remembered as the year not simply where Britain excelled itself but the year that we re-discovered what being British was all about. Our ability to finally celebrate our historic religious identity is a sign that our county once again believes in itself, and a country that believes in itself will believe in and support every individual, whatever their religion and whatever their background. 


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

International Aid with Accountability - An Appeal for The Gambia

In the age of austerity, with everyone struggling to make ends meet, the challenge of securing support for overseas aid and development projects can be a tough one. When it comes to securing donations and support, it’s only right that those offering to help some of the world’s poorest people have visibility into how and where their money is being spent. It was a question I put to Bill Gates at the International Development meeting in the House of Commons earlier in the year – I asked him how you can make aid relevant when people are worried about keeping their jobs struggling to pay the rent on time. His response was as simple as it was significant. He said it wasn’t necessarily about asking for amounts of money, but more about explaining to people what a huge impact such a small amount of money could have on some of the world’s poorest people.

Last year, when I launched the Memorial School Appeal after working for two weeks in Sierra Leone, I was stunned by the response from friends, colleagues and Croydon residents. It wasn’t simply a matter of donations of school equipment, but the wider interest and messages of support I received from people keen to learn more and help out.

This year I spent one week of annual leave in The Gambia, West Africa and worked  alongside staff from the GLOVE project. The organisation seeks to help train and support villagers to become more self-sufficient, teaching them skills and techniques to raise their own funds and improve living standards.

Today I am launching an appeal to support the villages in North Bank in The Gambia. This appeal is not for money, but for educational materials such as paper, pencils and textbooks and healthcare products such as paracetamol, bandages and plasters to help the Gambian villagers create a better life for themselves. No matter how small you may think your contribution may be, I can assure you it will mean a great deal to them. 

Please get in touch and help bring change to some of the world’s poorest people. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Help out with Croydon Council's 2013/14 budget

Croydon Council are asking all residents across the borough to complete an online survey to get their view on where efficiencies should be made.

Since 2006, the Council has delivered over £118m efficiencies which has enabled council tax increases to be kept to a minimum.

Please do fill in the survey as your view is important and will help shape the 2013/14 budget.

Complete the survey here

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Osborne Made Me Proud

Anyone hoping that yesterday’s Autumn Statement from George Osborne would signal a change of strategy from ‘Plan A’ is likely to be bitterly disappointed, as the Chancellor pressed ahead with proposals for radical cuts to departmental budgets to find an additional £5billion to kick-start the economy.

This aggressive approach will mean that departments are expected to slash 1 per cent off their running costs in 2013-14 and save 2 per cent the following year. The Government's economic strategy will continue to focus on reducing the deficit, restoring stability and rebalancing our economy. 

Osborne's central message was that Britain was on the right track, pledging:

- investing £5.5billion (gained by cutting Whitehall spending & benefit bills) into schools, roads and science

- a 2 year increase in the Annual Investment Allowance from £25,000 to £250,000 to support SMES

- corporation tax cut to 21p (the lowest rate in the G7 and the fourth in the G20)

- cancelling January's 3p fuel rise

- increase in personal allowance to £9,440, by a further £235 resulting in a further 24 million people getting a tax cut

- increasing state pension by 2.5% so that it will be £110.15 a week

This was a good day for Osborne and the Conservative backbenchers cheered loudly when he explained that 1.2 million new jobs had been created in the private sector since the Coalition Government came to power. 

To read Osborne's Autumn Statement in full please click here