Robert Jenrick: Aiming to lift living standards
7:00am Sun Jan 08, 2017
 
Robert Jenrick.
Robert Jenrick.
Happy new year to all Advertiser readers. Could 2017 possibly be as eventful as last year?
Our negotiation to exit the EU will commence formally in April when Theresa May triggers Article 50; a new president of the US is promising to depart from some of the orthodoxies of American foreign policy; the world is continuing to wrestle with Islamist terrorism; and there is the tragedy of Syria, responsibility for which the West, under Obama’s indecisive leadership, has unconscionably ceded to Vladimir Putin.

2016 was a year of sharp transition as voters in the UK and the US demanded change by making the momentous decisions of Brexit and electing Donald Trump.

This year we will begin to see how the changes pan out.

2017 should be a year in which the government concentrates on the two areas upon which it will ultimately be judged: resolving the EU issue as soon as possible to reduce uncertainty and boost confidence; and raising the living standards of those who work hard, but are not well off.

We won’t achieve this by making the better off poorer, but by making the whole UK a higher earning, wealthier country through tax changes and boosts to productivity.

Last month we saw the first analysis of one of the policies the Government has implemented to help those who are putting in the hours but still struggling to get by.

The new National Living Wage (£7.20 per hour for the over-25s) has given 25% of working people a pay rise in 2016.

That’s not because a quarter of people were earning less than £7.20, but because the policy has encouraged employers to review what they pay a large chunk of the workforce.

Helping us to keep quite a bit of the money we earn



Local businesses have managed this transition well, as unemployment remains exceptionally low at around 1%.

The personal allowance will increase to £10,800 this coming financial year and £11,000 next year, taking another 600,000 people out of paying income tax altogether by 2018.

And the higher rate threshold will increase too, from £42,385 to £42,700 this coming year and £43,300 next year.

All of this helps us to keep quite a bit more of the money we earn.

I have argued in Parliament for lower taxes on savers to encourage us all to put more money aside and help pensioners.

From April, the new Personal Savings Allowance helps those earning less than £42,700 by making their first £1,000 of interest on savings completely tax free.

For those under 40 the new Lifetime ISA launching in April will be a no-brainer for first-time buyers as the Government will add a 25% bonus on top of what they save — meaning up to £32,000 of free money.

For retirement savings it works the same way, but you would need to decide whether it is a better choice for you than a normal pension.

If you want more information on any of these initiatives, please don’t hesitate to contact me on jenrickr@parliament.uk.

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