05 DEC 2013
Today's autumn statement held a lot of good news about the economy, employment and the deficit.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced this morning that the Office for Budget Responsibility has revised GDP forecasts upwards from 0.6% to 1.4% in 2013 and from 1.8% to 2.4% in 2014 and also up for the following four years to 2.2%, 2.6%, 2.7% and 2.7%. It was also announced that the employment growth forecast has too been revised upwards from staying flat to rising by 400,000 this year. Furthermore, it was also announced that unemployment is predicted to fall to 7% in 2015.
However, not everything was on the up; it was announced that the deficit that was 11% in 2009/10 is projected to fall to 5.6% in 2014/15 and currently stands at 6.8%. It was also forecasted that by 2018/19 the UK is expected to be running a budget surplus.
The OBR also announced that Government debt was also £18 Billion lower than it forecasted in March.
Jack said "The announcements made by the OBR are a very reassuring sign that Britain is on the road to recovery and the Chancellors' plan is working. While the figures that have been announced today are great news, the hard work is not over yet; tough decisions still need to be made and above all else we need to remain fiscally prudent and continue to help business and industry grow"
The Chancellor also set out the next steps in the Government's long-term economic plan. It was announced that the government is scrapping employers' National Insurance for under-21s; capping business rates at 2% and extending the Small Business Rate Relief into 2015.
The Chancellor announced measures that will put money back into people's pockets. It was announced that fuel duty will be frozen for the remainder of the Parliament. It will be 20 pence per litre lower by the end of the Parliament compared to plans inherited from Labour. This saves the average motorist £11 every time they fill up their tank. Additionally, it was announced that rail fares will be frozen in 2014. The Chancellor as well announced changes to green levies, which will see the cost of green levies being taken off consumers. This means households will save an average of £50 on their energy bills.
Jack commented on the Chancellors Autumn saying "I'm very pleased with the announcements made this morning; the Chancellor is helping business and industry grow and giving small business the help and boost they need. The Chancellor is also helping hard pressed individuals and families by putting money back into their pockets by freezing fuel duty, freezing rail fares and reforming green levies."
27 NOV 2013
On Wednesday, Jack Lopresti MP marched on Parliament alongside the British Nuclear Test Veterans' Association (BNTVA), along with John Baron MP, who is the Association's Patron, before accompanying them to Downing Street where they handed in a 5,000 signature petition to the Prime Minister.
Between 1952 and 1967, more than 20,000 service people took part in the British Nuclear Test programme in the South Pacific where hundreds of test nuclear weapons were detonated. BNTVA campaigners believe veterans who were present for the testing of these nuclear weapons have suffered higher than normal rates of cancer and rare disorders. Their spouses and children have also suffered, and some children have been known to be born with rare genetic disorders.
Since 2011, BNTVA has been campaigning for recognition of the veterans' unique service to their country. BNTVA are also calling for a £25 million benevolent fund to be established to help with treatment and care for the illnesses veterans and their families are suffering as a result of their service.
Jack said "It is about time that these veterans get the recognition they deserve for their unique and valiant service. Every other country in the world who took part in nuclear tests have recognised and compensated their nuclear veterans, apart from the UK.
We owe these men a huge debt of gratitude as they helped us gain the knowledge to produce and maintain a nuclear deterrent.
These people were serving our country and doing their duty, despite knowing the dangers that nuclear radiation presented, it's now time for the government to acknowledge its duty and responsibilities to these veterans."
18 NOV 2013
This morning Jack Lopresti MP visited the Winterbourne International Academy to see how the new £20 million refurbishment and new build was progressing.
The Winterbourne International Academy which is an 11-18 co-educational Academy has benefitted from £20 million in Government investment for a brand new building that will replace the majority of the old, existing buildings. This investment will transform the school and provide a modern environment and learning facilities for pupils.
Jack said "This investment by the government will give Winterbourne Academy modern buildings and is an investment in the future of our young people. The Winterbourne International Academy consistently has outstanding results and I am very happy that they will have an outstanding building to reflect their success. I am very excited about returning next year to see the finished building"
The new facilities which will include a new auditorium, learning resource centre, and interactive theatre will be opened in 2014.
13 NOV 2013
A Stoke Gifford church is launching a £50,000 Buy a Brick campaign to help build a new church and community centre at the heart of the village.
St. Michael's Church, Stoke Gifford has already raised £2.4m towards the cost of the £5.5m Heart of the Community project, which will provide much needed meeting rooms and a 600-seat auditorium for events, conferences and church services.
The bricks will be sold at a series of mobile 'building sites' complete with bricks, construction signage and cones.
Rev. Rocks, who is leading the Buy a Brick team said: "We are inviting the whole of the local community to play a part in the project by paying for individual bricks for the new centre. Everyone who donates £10 will be given a Buy a Brick certificate andthe satisfaction of playing a part in building community."
The Buy a Brick team will be taking their mobile site to local events including Carols on the Green on 14 December as well as Parkway Station, Friends Life and the local branches of the Co-op, Asda and B&Q.
Bricks will also be on sale in St Michael's Church Old School Rooms from 10am-4pm on Monday to Friday and online at www.stmichaelsbristol.org/brick.
A number of local businesses are also selling bricks to their customers.
Bishop Mike of Bristol and local MP Jack Lopresti have already bought the first bricks in support of the project.
Jack Lopresti MP said, "I admire the ambition of the Heart of the community project. The new centre will be a great asset to serve the local population. I'm delighted to buy a brick and play my part in building the local community."
The Rev. Martin Gordon said, "We are aiming to sell 5,000 bricks and raise £50,000 towards the project. It's a chance for everyone to play their part in improving local facilities and building local community brick by brick."
The new centre on the derelict Barns site will provide much needed meeting facilities and conference space for schools, charities and local businesses as well as wedding receptions and other celebrations. It will also serve as a resource for the wider region, within easy access of the M4 and M5 motorways and next door to Bristol Parkway Station.
The building is key to the Heart of the Community project, which also includes refurbishing the Old School Rooms adjacent to the Barns and renovating the 14th Century church. St Michael's plans to raise the rest of the money from fundraising events, grants and individual and corporate donations.
The Rev. Rocks said, "We are thrilled that so many local businesses, individuals and community groups are behind this project. I am looking forward to meeting as many people from the local community as I can."
Jack is pictured at the Church having bought his brick.
06 NOV 2013
Jack fought against the decision of the last Labour Government to downgrade services at Frenchay Hospital as a parliamentary candidate, and since being elected to Parliament in 2010, has been leading efforts locally to ensure that as many services as possible remain in our local area.
Despite it being initially decided to keep a significant presence on site with plans for a Community Hospital with 68 beds, with outpatients and diagnostic clinics at Frenchay, it now appears the Clinical Commissioning Group wish to reduce these provisions even further.
Jack, along with Chris Skidmore MP, previously met with the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP to raise concerns over the hospital delay, and are now seeking a further meeting in light of the latest developments. Jack recently met with the Clinical Commissioning Group and was unsatisfied with their plans.
Jack said, "I have used the NHS all mylife, myself and my three children were born in NHS hospitals, earlier this year I had my own health issues culminating in my being diagnosed with cancer, I know exactly how important our NHS is. I'd like to pay tribute to the Doctors, Nurses and all the staff at Frenchay and Southmead for all the care and support they have given me.
The future of Frenchay Hospital is an incredibly important and emotive local issue ever since the previous Labour Government decided to downgrade our beloved hospital. The Conservatives on South Gloucestershire Council recently put forward a proposal which would fund the retention of services at Frenchay for two years between Frenchay closing and the opening of the new Community Hospital. This was voted down by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who unfortunately were willing to risk the future of our local hospital in order to engage in political point scoring. This is now the second time Labour have put Frenchay Hospital in peril; more proof, if any were needed, that they can never again be trusted with our NHS.
We really need to end this latest threat to the delivery of what are long-standing promises to local people, especially when we know that by 2014 an extra £12.5 billion per year will be invested into the NHS. I will keep up the pressure to protect our local health services."
19 OCT 2013
Jack Lopresti MP attended the Kumon Bradley Stoke Study Centre Open Day today at the Willow Brook Centre in Bradley Stoke. The event provided local families with a chance to learn more about Kumon's individualised maths and
English programmes and how they could benefit their children.
There were a number of activities at the event, including a balloon artist and a one-hour reading workshop by author
Joffre White. Dave Baker, the Executive Headteacher of the Olympus Academy Trust, which is responsible for Bradley Stoke
Community School and Abbeywood Community School, also gave a presentation about how the Trust works.
Parents also had the opportunity to explore study materials and ask any questions they might have about the Kumon
Kumon offers individualised maths and English study programmes which are tailored to all ages and abilities. Established for over 50 years, the Kumon programmes enable children to develop their study skills and confidently tackle advanced work.
Kumon develops children through the acquisition of independent learning skills, rather than teaching in the conventional sense. Children will be equipped with the ability to learn for themselves so they do not become dependent on – or limited by – the skills and knowledge of others.
Instructor at the Bradley Stoke Study Centre, Sarah Nutchey, said: "It was great to have Mr Lopresti attend our event and we were very appreciative of him giving up his time. The event was a great success and we met lots of prospective parents on the day. We look forward to welcoming new students and families to our Kumon centre."
The Bradley Stoke Study Centre is located at Unit 4, The Willow Brook Centre, with classes running on Mondays,
Wednesday and Thursdays from 2:30pm to 6:30pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
18 OCT 2013
Jack has paid a return visit to the Smart Motorway scheme at the M4/M5 Almondsbury interchange. His previous visit was in September 2012 when the work was well underway. Now, most of the project has been completed on the M4, with work still in progress on the M5.
The Smart Motorways scheme will use several techniques to relieve congestion on this very busy part of the motorway network. The hard shoulder will be used as a running lane to increase capacity at peak times and variable speed limits will also be used to improve journey times. The work has involved installing cameras, information signs and gantry-mounted signals
across the carriageway. These will allow the Highways Agency to adopt a more pro-active approach to the management of this section of motorway, reducing journey times and supporting economic development. The work has made it easier to detect incidents and improve response times.
It is also looking likely that the work will be on time and under budget.
'I am delighted that this scheme is progressing well,' Jack commented. 'A significant amount of taxpayers money has been invested in this scheme and I know it will bring huge benefits for drivers. I am also delighted that it will be finished early and within the budget set for it.'
Jack was also delighted to learn that the Balfour Beatty team on the project has won a British Construction Industry Award for their Health and Safety record. The company undertook 140 hours of filming on site to establish the level of safety being displayed by workers and subsequently developed a 'Plant Person Interface' training programme that all workers took
part in. This resulted in noticeable improvements to behaviour and an excellent safety record among workers on site. Works Manager John Gill is holding the BCI Award, while Jack has a Considerate Constructors Scheme National Gold Award
which is given to the top performing 1% of construction sites who exhibit considerate site practice in safety, environment and being a good neighbour.
On their safety record, Jack said 'I would like to extend my congratulations to the team at Balfour Beatty and the Highways Agency who have worked on the Smart Motorway scheme for their safety record. Safety is the most important thing on a site such as this and I am pleased that their efforts have been recognised.'
16 OCT 2013
Jack Lopresti MP was today on hand at GKN Aerospace at Western Approach in his Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency as they played host to 16 students from the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy.
The event was part of the Department for Business's See Inside Manufacturing initiative, which aims to change students perceptions of manufacturing by encouraging successful companies to open their doors to students and teachers. This is part of the Government's drive to address skills shortages among British workers, encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing and help them into apprenticeships.
The students were given a tour of GKNs factory and heard about the work they are doing in partnership with Airbus on the A380 programme. GKN staff gave a description of the cutting edge technology the company has developed and the benefits this will bring to the UKs aerospace industry. They also heard from an Engineer at GKN who talked them through the routes available to them to become a fully qualified engineer. They later took part in a paper aeroplane manufacturing event.
'I think the SIM initiative is a great idea,' commented Jack. 'The young people who visited GKN today from the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy have a wonderful opportunity in front of them due to the large number of high level companies across north Bristol. I know they are receiving a very specialised education at BTE, and the Academy is growing its
links with employers such as GKN all the time. This Government has brought about a huge increase in apprenticeships nationally, and I am sure that many of the students I met today will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that will be available to them in the years ahead.'
The See Inside Manufacturing programme has been developed by the Government to encourage young people to study manufacturing related subjects and to develop the skills employers such as GKN can use. It is part of the Government's attempts to close the skills gap among school leavers that employers have been aware of for some time. Industry has long argued that having a more highly skilled workforce in the UK will allow companies here to compete better with similar companies abroad, something that will have the added benefit of increasing the prospects for economic growth. The opening of BTE is also part of this effort.
Jack also said 'I have recently visited the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy in Stoke Gifford, and I am delighted they are there and are giving students between the ages of 14 and 19 clear pathways into skilled jobs. They are working very closely with employers across north Bristol, and I am delighted that students from this area are now getting this opportunity.'
04 OCT 2013
Jack has visited the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy in Stoke Gifford, newly opened in September. The BTE is part of a network of 17 University Technology Colleges that are open across the country, with more to follow in
2014 and 2015, and offers a specialist education in engineering and environmental technology for students between the ages of 14 and 19.
BTE is sponsored by Airbus and GKN Aerospace and is aimed
at giving students the academic, personal and practical skills to enter the
workplace. Business awareness, teamwork, project management and employability skills
are taught through a curriculum that is developed with input from the Academies
sponsors. These sponsors provide advice on creating engineering challenges that
give a practical context to students learning and enable students to develop
their thinking skills, self discipline, motivation and confidence.
Jack was taken on a tour of the Academy to see their
facilities and meet students and staff. He also heard about links they have
with their other supporters Rolls Royce, Atkins Global, Network Rail and Astra
Zeneca. At present, just over 200 students are pupils at the Academy, which
opened at the start of the current academic year. The Principal, Rhian Priest,
was able to tell him about the work that has taken place so far this year and
their future plans.
Qualifications offered by BTE are the first step on the
path to a career in Engineering. Depending on the students preference, there is
the possibility to move on to an Apprenticeship or further study. The Royal
Academy of Engineering found that British industry will need 100,000 new
graduates a year with science, technology, engineering and mathematics
qualifications to maintain the same number who are in current employment.
Graduates from BTE will therefore become very employable due to their time at
Jack is pictured with the Principal Rhian Priest at BTE.
04 OCT 2013
Jack Lopresti MP has met with representatives of the
Royal British Legion and the Alabare charity to discuss housing provision for
military veterans in South Gloucestershire. The charity has three move on homes
for veterans in the Bristol area, two in Filton and one on Southmead Road,
where they are provided with accommodation and access to health services,
training and employment as well as drug and alcohol support if necessary.
Unfortunately they are having difficulty finding accommodation for these residents
in social housing as they look to move on from these properties.
Miltary veterans have had their eligibility for social
housing improved due to the signing of the military covenant. However, more
needs to be done for them as they move back into civilian life. Jack commented
'there still isn't enough individual help available to enable ex-servicemen to
maximise their chances of finding new accommodation. Not enough is being done
for them on a one to one basis. I have visited one of the homes they run in
Filton, and was very impressed with the facilities and heartened to hear of the
assistance they are able to give the residents as they adjust to life outside
the military. It is therefore disappointing that South Gloucestershire Council
still aren't doing everything they can to help men and women who have served
There is a further problem with the residents of
Alabare's homes due to the fact they often don't have a local link to the South
Gloucestershire area. 'It is the case that many servicemen have moved around
the country in their military careers and so don't have a link with any one
place. I know that other local authorities where Alabare have properties do
take account of this in their housing allocation criteria. I believe that
everything possible should be done for them as they readjust to civilian life,
particularly if they are finding this transition difficult, and so I have
written to South Gloucestershire Council to ask them to look again at their
housing allocation policy.'