How to pay more tax if you wish

Three constituents have written to me saying they do not want a tax cut as they think their incomes are good and should be taxed more.

The great news is the government has a system that allows anyone who wishes to pay extra voluntary tax to do so. Log onto the gov.uk website to make extra payments

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/voluntary payments-donations-to-government

Wokingham Borough want to price shoppers out of Wokingham town centre

Wokingham Councillors have asked me to bring this to attention. I agree with them that the last thing we need are big parking charge rises when we need to get inflation down and help people on stretched budgets. We need to promote Wokingham shops, not price people out of them. I have been told:

 

Breaking News – Wokingham’s LibDem¬† /Lab / Ind Coalition propose to double parking charges, to charge on Sundays and in the evenings!

This image, copied from the agenda for the Council’s Executive Meeting later this month shows that the price of one hour of parking will increase by 62.5%, massively ahead of inflation.

For years officers at WBC asked the Conservative councillors to increase parking charges across the borough.

We repeatedly resisted this for two reasons.
1) We always wanted to promote businesses and didn’t want to prevent residents from enjoying our towns, supporting local businesses or from living their daily lives.
2) The justification was not strong enough as the cost of running our car parks had not dramatically changed.

Parking charge timings are also set to change, with the money hungry coalition proposing implementing charges until 10pm, a change from the current 6pm stop time.
Anyone used to going out for dinner at the weekend, parking and not needing a ticket after 6pm, is therefore likely to be caught out and fined through until 10pm.

The coalition has also proposed to start charging on Sundays. Again, Conservative councillors repeatedly resisted this.

In a time when the cost of living is significantly increasing, when many businesses are still struggling to regain their footfall and customers post-pandemic, the LAST THING our council should be doing right now is increasing the price of parking.

It will discourage people from shopping local, further impact already struggling businesses, increase the cost of living in our community and penalise those who work in our towns or use our car parks as part of their commute.

Wokingham Borough Conservatives will fight against this disgraceful and unjustified daylight robbery of our community.
We will keep members updated to ensure you can sign the petition and give your support to fight this.

 

Energy Prices Support Package

I have received the letter below from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy outlining support for businesses, charities & public sector organisations (such as schools and hospitals) against rising energy prices. Further information can be found on the following weblink: Energy Prices Support Package

Please note that this weblink is regarding support for non-domestic customers only. I will publish the link to updated support for households once it becomes available:

Dear Members,

ENERGY PRICES SUPPORT PACKAGE

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 8 September, the Government is today publishing further details of the support we are offering to people and businesses in the face of soaring energy prices. This package of unprecedented assistance for the whole UK provides the certainty families and business owners need to help them manage their energy bills.

Details of the Energy Price Guarantee for domestic consumers and the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for business and non-domestic properties are available on gov.uk. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out more details of the costs of the Government’s support as part of his fiscal statement on 23 September.

We have designed the schemes to be simple for energy consumers. Families and eligible businesses do not have to take action or apply for support, energy suppliers will automatically apply the appropriate reduction via their energy bill. Households will receive an equivalent level of financial support wherever they are in the UK. The same is true for businesses across the UK too.

The Energy Price Guarantee for Great Britain will ensure that a typical household pays an average £2,500 a year for their energy, from 1 October 2022 for the next two years. On average usage, a household will save £1,000 a year. This is in addition to the already announced £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme for households across the UK. The most vulnerable UK households will also continue to receive £1,200 of support. For consumers in England, Scotland and Wales who pay for their energy through a monthly, quarterly or other regular bill, the Energy Price Guarantee will be applied when their bill is calculated. The Guarantee limits the amount the bill payer can be charged per unit of gas or electricity, so the exact bill amount will continue to be influenced by how much energy is used.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme will provide protections for all businesses, voluntary sector and public sector organisations in Great Britain which face excessively high energy bills over the winter period, whether they are on existing fixed price contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022, signing new fixed price contracts, variable or deemed tariffs or flexible purchase contracts To administer support, the Government has set a Supported Wholesale Price ‚Äď expected to be ¬£211 per MWh for electricity and ¬£75 per MWh for gas, less than half the wholesale prices anticipated this winter ‚Äď‚ÄĮwhich is a discounted price per unit of gas and electricity.. Suppliers will pass the reduction in the wholesale price through to their customers.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme will run initially for 6 months covering energy use from 1 October 2022 until 31 March 2023. We will publish a review of the scheme after 3 months. This review will consider how best to offer further support to customers who are the most vulnerable to energy price increases. These are likely to be those who are least able to adjust, for example by reducing energy usage or increasing energy efficiency.

As the Prime Minister said on 8 September, the Government is bringing forward emergency legislation to underpin the delivery of our support package. We will introduce a Bill immediately after Parliamentary Recess. It will include measures for the GB Energy Price Guarantee for domestic consumers and Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses and non-domestic properties so all of GB receives equivalent support; and enable the delivery of comparable schemes in Northern Ireland. It will provide powers to enable low carbon generators to move onto fixed prices to end the situation where electricity prices are set by the marginal price of gas ensuring consumers pay a fair price for their energy.

With every good wish,

Jacob Rees Mogg

Wokingham remembers

The civic service last night at St Pauls was wonderfully crafted. Varied readings from Winnie the Pooh to Revelations were interspersed with great hymns and Psalms. The Bishop of Reading spoke well, reflecting the essence of service and leadership above politics that the Queen personified.  I am very grateful to all who organised it and participated.

All led up to the perfectly timed one minute silence at 8 pm, announced by a commanding and tuneful last post. As we bowed our heads together in grief at loss and with happy memories of the Queens’s great life our community was united with common feelings. It was good to have those moments of stillness in an otherwise busy and argumentative world.

All those of us who have the privilege of public service to others can learn much from how our late sovereign carried out her duties.

May she rest in peace.

Westminster Hall

Yesterday I paid my respects to the late Queen in Westminster Hall on behalf of Wokingham. It was a most moving service as we felt  the grief at our national loss. The silences before and after the singing and prayers were punctuated by the tolling of the bell and  tapped orders to the guards of honour.The sun shone through the great window highlighting the colours of the flags and uniforms against the grey stone.

Wokingham proclaims the new King

I attended the Proclamation in Wokingham marketplace on Sunday.

The Mayor read the Proclamation from the Accession Council to a large crowd who had gathered in the sunshine.

I spent time talking to people after the event. We were all feeling the bitter sweet nature of the occasion. There was great and continuing sadness over the death of a much admired and respected Queen. There were good wishes and hopes for the new King.

Those who stood patiently to the side of the Town Hall had been unable to hear the address but took it in good spirit and were pleased to have witnessed the event. Many wanted to talk to me about the Queen and some had heard my tribute in the Commons where I tried to pass on my understanding of the love and professionalism the Queen displayed in her many visits and ceremonies. They wanted to know more about the sovereign we have lost.

There was general optimism about Charles III and an understanding of the important role a monarch can play at the head of our democratic system of government. In good times and bad the Queen could speak about the things that unite us.

Social care costs

I have told Wokingham Borough Council that I will as always support sensible proposals for more financial support from central government to provide good local services. In particular I am conscious more money can be helpful in dealing with social care. I trust the Council will respond to the consultation on distributing extra funding for social care reform. Under these proposals the Council could receive up to an extra ¬£2.77m in 2023-24 for social care to cover the costs of the extension of means tested support and including an extra ¬£1.2m for its own administrative costs, if it opted for the choices in the consultation that maximised Wokingham’s receipts. Even going for other options would still deliver the extra ¬£1.2m for administration.

Letter to Leader of Wokingham Council about highways consultation

 

Dear Clive

 

        Thank you for extending the period of this consultation. It is important more people are made aware of it given its significance for our community. I trust the Council will seek to make it better known in the days that remain.

 

        The power and responsibility to make changes to our roads, cycleways and paths rests with Wokingham Borough Council as the Highways Authority. The central government does  not require you to make specific changes to roads or junctions and certainly does not want to see a policy of impeding the reasonable use of motor vehicles for people getting to work, to the shops, and to leisure facilities. Nor does it wish to see good access blocked for emergency vehicles, service providers and delivery vehicles.

 

         As Wokingham is currently  experiencing fast growth in population with a substantial rate of new housebuilding under our local plan it is most important that we expand road, cycleway and walking route capacities to meet the rising demand. I trust the Council will continue with the policy of putting in extra good road provision to bypass busy settlements and to remove dangerous road bottlenecks. It should also wish to ease congestion at junctions to reduce pollution, reduce tensions between different users of the roads and  make for smoother and safer journeys. The government does provide additional money for suitable schemes for roads and cycleways but does not lay down where or how these should be introduced.

 

Yours sincerely

 

John Redwood

 

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP

A Letter from the Department for Education regarding All Saints CofE (Aided) Primary School

I have received the below letter from the Secretary of State for Education regarding the All Saints CofE (Aided) Primary School reaching academy status which I would like to share:

 

Dear colleague,

FUNDING AGREEMENT FOR ALL SAINTS COFE (AIDED) PRIMARY SCHOOL

I am pleased to inform you that I have agreed to enter into a Funding Agreement to allow All Saints CofE (Aided) Primary School, in Wokingham Borough Council, to become an academy.

The date of conversion will be 1 September 2022 and I am writing to the local authority to instruct it to cease maintaining the school from that date.

As you know, academies form an integral part of the Government’s education policy to raise attainment for all children and to bring about sustained improvements to all schools. I am delighted that the school recognises the benefits academy status will bring.

Rt Hon James Cleverly MP
Secretary of State for Education

Wokingham roads consultation : Letter to Council

Dear Clive

I am writing to urge you to extend the time allowed for consultation on your road plans, to improve the content on the website to allow clear overall visibility of the plans and to advertise it more widely so the public can engage.

The extensive plans to change roads and junctions in Wokingham Borough could pose considerable difficulties  to all those who need to use a van or car to earn a living, to deliver items to homes and shops to keep us supplied, to get children to school, to get people to surgeries and hospitals, to allow mobility to the disabled  and to give easy access to emergency vehicles when needed.

I welcome the provision of more and better cycleways away from main roads, and good walking routes also away from main roads. As someone who does a lot of walking in the local area I feel well catered for, with plenty of footpaths allowing me to get away from traffic. I support more greenways to schools so more children can choose to cycle or walk in relative safety away from main roads.

The area has experienced a fast pace of housing development which outstripped the capacity of the road network. Most new homes are lived in by people who need a car to get to work, to undertake the weekly shop or to go out in the evening. The Council was in the business of catching up with the  shortage of roadspace by putting in much needed bypasses and better highways for motor vehicles, leaving other routes freer for pedestrian and cycle priority. This current plan seems to want to damage the main road routes, adding to potential conflict at junctions between pedestrians and vehicles, and creating traffic jams which will cause more motorist and  van driver frustration. Changing successful junctions like the Woosehill roundabout which usually flows well is particularly worrying. Reducing main road capacity is a bad idea when we are short of capacity to start with.

The Consultation has been insufficiently advertised and is too short a time period when many people are away on holiday. The technology also does not make it easy to see what is planned in all parts of the Borough. It looks like an expensive and worrying plan which will worsen people’s experience of the Borough, frustrate visitors and make normal lives more vexatious. I suggest the Council thinks again and goes back to a system of incremental improvement with a balanced approach which allows vehicle users principal routes to get around whilst providing more safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians. The main A and B roads should be strategic local routes to allow business to flourish and to permit all those who need to use a car because of distance or disability to do so easily.

At a time when the Council is worried about having enough money for crucial priorities in social care and education  this potentially large expenditure looks badly judged.  

Yours sincerely

 

The Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP, D.Phil, FCSI

Member of Parliament for Wokingham

www.johnredwoodsdiary.com

Twitter: @johnredwood