THE JOHN HOWELL COLUMN: ‘Thame is a trailblazer for rest of the country’

MP for Thame John Howell
MP for Thame John Howell

NEXT week marks the end of the first session of this Parliament.

There’s a common theme running throughout the reforms the Government has introduced and that’s aspiration and fairness.

Take my planning reforms. We have a housing crisis in this country - building the fewest number of houses in peace time since the 1920s; an average age of 37 to buy your first house.

That’s not fair on those who are struggling to find a decent place to live or get a first foot on the housing ladder.

Of course any new development needs to get the balance right between the economic, social and environmental requirements of an area. That’s why it’s fair to give local communities and their elected councils the responsibility to decide themselves what that balance should be.

Thame is a trailblazer on this for the country through its Neighbourhood Plan.

When I became an MP I spent a day working in a Job Centre.

I know how the most vulnerable in our society need protecting.

But this should be a far cry from the dependency culture and the ‘something for nothing’ mentality it has created.

It is simply not fair that households on out of work benefits should have a greater income than a working household receives in wages. That’s why I’ve supported a cap on the amount of benefits a household can receive.

It’s linked to average weekly earnings, and imposes a limit of £26,000 a year. It’s the same for education. I want all young people to have the chance of a good education; not the few or the rich.

That’s why I have visited almost every school in the constituency and why as well as supporting new Free Schools and Academies I’ve also taken a zero tolerance approach to those that are failing.

In politics as in life the test is whether you have the courage to play the hand you’re dealt however good or bad.

This first session has shown that the Government is.