My week in Westminster

I have had a particularly full week in Westminster. I have spoken in debates about tax credits, child benefit and the legal aid bill, as well as written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding the closure of the Remploy factory in Chesterfield; to Norman Lamb MP, the Government Pubs Minister; and Chris Grayling MP, Minister with responsibility for the workfare programme.


As a result of contacts from many constituents about working family tax credits and child benefit I spoke in a debate in the House of Commons Chamber on Monday; raising the issue of those families who will lose tax credits because of the changes to be brought this April when recipients are forced to work longer to access tax credits; while at the same time couples earning over £40,000 a year will lose all their entitlement to child benefit.



Speaking in the House of Commons, this was my contribution to the debate “There are 335 Chesterfield families, and 635 children, who will lose up to £4,000. There are 1,305 people in my constituency alone—working families who are trying to play by the rules and do their bit—who are having the rug pulled out from under their feet.


“More working people will be forced to give up work and to rely on benefit, which is the polar opposite of what the Minister wants to achieve. These changes will lead to parents being £728 a year better off out of work than staying in work without the tax credits. Why would a Government who support marriage and the family introduce harsh fiscal measures that are likely to put more pressure on those families who stay together? The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers has stated that 78% of its 410,000 members working in retail cannot get extra hours at work.


“The Government’s policy of cutting child benefit for higher rate taxpayers is entirely chaotic, as has been exposed by several Members. If two members of the same family earn £42,000 each, that family will keep its child benefit, but a single parent on £43,000 will lose theirs. About 170,000 families could increase their net income if an individual in the family managed to lower their pre-tax income to just below the higher rate tax threshold. The policy creates a perverse disincentive to success, and it is wholly anti-aspirational”


You can read my speech in full and the rest of the debate here


Speaking on Tuesday regarding the Legal Aid bill and access to legal aid for assistance with benefit claims I addressed the Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly MP: “My concern is that if the Minister comes through with this policy without identifying an alternative, the most vulnerable people, who are used to being on benefits and suddenly find that they are not eligible, will be desperately marooned. Will the Minister give us a sense of who might pick up the slack in those cases? If not, will he consider giving Government support to that amendment, rather than scrapping the entire savings proposals?”


In response, the Minister stated that the Government have launched a review into advice services (which would be affected by these changes), which is due to conclude later this spring, and will contain proposals to provide for the sustainability of the advice services across the UK.


Speaking at an emergency statement in the House of Commons last night, I expressed my anger at the closure of the Remploy factory in Chesterfield and pressed the Minister to report back to parliament to let us know whether laid off workers found work: “I think that the 54 disabled people who are losing the jobs at Remploy in Chesterfield will see through the Minister’s warm words and rhetoric. The fact is that more disabled people than able-bodied people are unemployed generally: it is a desperately difficult jobs market out there anyway. The Minister has already dodged this question twice. Will she commit herself to coming back to the House in six months and telling us where those who have lost their jobs at Remploy have gone, so that we can establish whether her warm words mean anything to the 54 people in my constituency who are losing their jobs?”


I am also writing to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP to urge the Government to change course on this issue and stop the closure of the Remploy factory in Chesterfield.


This week I have written to Chris Grayling MP about the workfare programme, following one constituent’s disappointing experience, and to Norman Lamb MP in my capacity as Shadow Minister for Small Businesses, regarding the lack of regulation for pub companies.


Yesterday a Chesterfield ‘A’ Level student, Paige Collins, was in parliament as part of an International Womens day event encouraging more girls and young women to consider a career in politics.


Yesterday evening I headed back to Chesterfield to attend an International Women’s Day event, before a busy day in the constituency and at surgery today.


I have also met with representatives of Institute for Public Policy Research, Bioindustry Association, National Casino Industry Forum, British Bankers Association and the trade union UCATT. I then attended an ICAEW breakfast meeting on Tuesday, discussing growth companies and investment, and the dinner of the ICAEW as part of my brief in representing Labour as the Shadow Small business Minister. Yesterday I was glad to attend a meeting of the think tank ‘Reform’, accompanied by Paige Collins, to meet with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.



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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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