Treasury Questions

Regional Economies

8. John Pugh (Southport) (LD): What recent steps he has taken to rebalance regional economies. [905845]
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Priti Patel): This Government are committed to rebalancing the economy in order to strengthen every part of the UK. In July this year local growth deals were agreed with all 39 local enterprise partnerships across England. Each deal reflects the particular needs and capabilities of the local area. Growth deals are just one of several ongoing investment programmes aimed at helping every region in the United Kingdom achieve economic success.
John Pugh: May I explore the link with governance? What is the concrete evidence outside London of the slightest connection between economic growth and elected mayors?
Priti Patel: It is fair to say, as we have heard today, that devolving power to more local areas enables the regions to take responsibility for the decisions that affect their areas, which in the long run will create good, solid, strong local long-term economic plans.
Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): The Minister talks about supporting regional growth and rebalancing the economy, yet promises are being made— £7 billion to Greater Manchester, £7 billion potentially to top taxpayers. That money would sort out transport connectivity issues and help us grow our economy, so will she commit to the Dawlish avoiding line and the resilience measures that we need in the south-west now?
Priti Patel: We are currently looking specifically at that.
Ian Swales (Redcar) (LD): In the past four years the Tees valley has received five times as much investment from the regional growth fund as in the last four years of the Labour Government. That is going not just to large companies, but to smaller ones too, such as Wards and ElringKlinger in my constituency. Will the Minister ensure that regional growth funding continues to be a key element of rebalancing the economy?
Priti Patel: My hon. Friend is right that, by handing back power to local leaders, we are enabling them to back local jobs and to create prosperity and long-term economic growth. That is exactly what this Government are committed to doing.
Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op): I welcome yesterday’s announcement in Greater Manchester and put on record my gratitude to the leadership in Greater Manchester for their efforts. May I offer some advice to the Chancellor? If he wants to endear himself further to the voters of Manchester, he might consider the totality of his Government’s policies on the area. When will he consider going further in fiscal devolution and secondary legislation devolution so that we can truly live up to our aims?
Priti Patel: I welcome the hon. Lady’s support for the package, which is substantial. The priority must be its implementation and delivery, and we look forward to working with all parties to make sure that it is a success.

Tax Credits

12. Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North) (Lab): How many working people are in receipt of tax credits. [905850]
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Priti Patel): In April 2014 there were 3.3 million people in work receiving tax credits, down from 4.8 million in April 2010.
Mr Reed: When the Chancellor came to office, less than a quarter of housing benefit claimants in Croydon were making claims to supplement low pay. Today that figure is two fifths. Will the Minister apologise for pushing growing numbers of hard-working Croydon families into poverty?
Priti Patel: When it comes to the cost of living, Labour’s great recession is what made the country and the hon. Gentleman’s constituents a whole lot poorer. We now have record levels of employment, including a 9% increase in his constituency. Perhaps he would like to welcome that.
Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): There are a great many studies and much empirical evidence showing that the surest way to combat poverty is through work. Is it not a badge of pride for this Government that in four years we have reduced the number of people in households where no one works by 671,000?
Priti Patel: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When it comes to tackling the country’s economic problems, we can improve living standards only by getting more people back into work. This Government have been reducing child poverty and ensuring that work pays.
Dame Anne Begg (Aberdeen South) (Lab): Tax credits are meant to be moving into universal credit. What timetable is the Treasury working to for phasing out tax credits?
Priti Patel: That matter will be subject to the next Parliament.
Mr Speaker: It is time to hear from a Lincolnshire knight—Sir Edward Leigh.
Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): If someone comes here to work from the European Union, and if they are in a relatively low-paid job and receive tax credits as a form of benefit, they might effectively be paying no tax at all. Will the Government tell the European Commission that we should have a new system by which people have to pay tax for at least three years before drawing any tax credits or benefits?
Priti Patel: We have already made changes to that whole area, and that is something we will look at further.


A12/A120 Consultations

Strategic Road Network Consultations

There are two important consultations running at the moment on key strategic road infrastructure improvements - the A12 widening scheme and the upgrading of the A120. Priti has been campaigning to secure new investment in these roads and has welcomed the consultations taking place. Members of the public can review the proposals for the A12 and A120 at the weblinks below, attend consultation events, and respond to the consultation. Feel free to also contact Priti by email to: [email protected] with your views too.

Widening the A12

Upgrading the A120

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