Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.
Happy New Year!
First of all I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2013. With 2012 now at an end, there is no doubt that it was a pretty special year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic games providing great entertainment and a sense of pride for the whole country. While 2013 may have less to offer in terms of international sporting events and royal celebrations, I’m glad to say we still have the Six Nations to look forward to!
There is no doubt that 2012 was also a challenging year for people and local businesses as the economy continued to recover from the recession and the Government worked to tackle the public spending deficit left by Labour. Despite the tough economic conditions, I am glad to say we have managed to reduce the public spending deficit by a quarter since 2010 which has kept interest rates down on business loans and people’s mortgages.
As well as restoring economic stability and growth, delivering fairer taxes is one of the Lib Dem’s top priorities in Government and I welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement in December to raise the personal tax allowance to £9,440. This move lifts over 5,000 Borderers out of income tax altogether and gives 47,500 a tax cut. Looking ahead to this year we want to see these tax cuts for low and middle earners go even further and to achieve this, we are now working towards the goal of raising the tax-free allowance to £10,000. This would see the tax cut received by Borderers increase to £700 per year since we started raising the income tax threshold in 2010.
As local MP, in this new year I am looking forward to continuing my work here in the Borders to represent local people’s concerns on issues such as housing, broadband and mobile phone coverage and health and transport services. I will also continue to hold my regular meetings with the Council, NHS Borders and the NFUS to ensure my constituents concerns are heard on both a local and national level.
Finally, following the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement in the autumn, 2013 will undoubtedly see the debate over Scotland’s future gather pace ahead of the referendum next year. Personally, I will be campaigning for Scotland to remain in the UK because I believe it is better for jobs, businesses and the economy if we stick together.