Thousands of workers will receive good news in in their pay slip this month. The National Living Wage has gone up by almost 5% to £8.21 per hour. This is the highest rate since it was first introduced. Pay rises also came into effect for younger workers on minimum wages, as well as for apprentices. A full-time worker on the National Living Wage is now more than £2,750 better off each year compared to 2015.
There have also been reductions in the amount of tax people pay as the personal allowance has been increased to £12,500. This means that from April a typical basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less tax a year than in 2010-11. A total of 1.74 million people on lower incomes will have been taken out of income tax altogether since 2015-16.
This month also saw the introduction of the new 15 minute delay repay for those using Chelmsford station. We pay a lot for our train tickets and when they are delayed, people deserve compensation. I was pleased to hear that Network Rail have now completed work on the overhead lines between Chelmsford and Liverpool Street so there will be fewer replacement buses at weekends.
The improvement works at Chelmsford station have now been completed. These include the pedestrian and cycle connection through the Marconi Evolution development to the university, a new bridge and better footpath lighting, as well as a new passenger drop-off lane and more blue badge parking
People will be concerned about the news of a recent knife crime incident in Central Park. I share those concerns. Much of the knife crime across the UK is drug and gang related.
In Essex, there has been a considerable increase in police resources and locally our police have been carrying out proactive operations to target and disrupt drug related activity. This has included a significant increase in stop and search. In February, 268 stop and searches were carried out across Chelmsford and Maldon, which is more than anywhere else in the country. There have also been a number of arrests. The police are also working with other organisations to reduce antisocial behaviour. This week in Chelmsford Magistrate Court, three teenagers were given two-year injunctions banning them from certain parts of Chelmsford, prohibiting them from carrying knives or large amounts of money and restricting them from association with certain listed people.
At the request of the police, I asked Chelmsford City Council to make CCTV improvements in Central Park. The CCTV units in the park have been upgraded to high definition units. These cameras are strategically placed within the park to obtain maximum coverage.
In Westminster, MPs have supported a new Offensive Weapons Bill that will make it more difficult to purchase knives; place new restrictions on online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products, including restrictions on deliveries to residential premises, and introduce a new offence of possessing certain offensive weapons in public. It also brings forwards new powers for the police to use Knife Crime Protection Orders.
This week during Prime Minister’s Questions I was able to raise the issue of knife crime in Chelmsford. The four-day summit has taken place at 10 Downing Street involving more than 100 expert organisations from across the country. This will deliver a new multi-agency response to violent crime based on best practice results on tackling this type of violence across the world.
I have been providing regular updates on the many developments regarding Brexit. These are available on my website www.vickyford.uk
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