Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here is the latest edition.

Advice surgeries

Last week I began my annual summer advice surgeries during which I will visit around 40 towns and villages across the Borders. These surgeries are a fantastic opportunity for me to hear the concerns of my constituents and discuss how I can support them in my role as MP. I have already held nearly 30 of these surgeries and discussed issues as wide-ranging as wind farms, housing, local roads and jobs.

Residents’ survey

As part of my work as local MP, I am conducting a residents’ survey of the Borders this summer to hear people’s views on the key issues facing our communities. On jobs and the economy, I want to know what people think are the main barriers to work in the region, whether it’s low wages or lack of suitable jobs or the distance they have to travel to work. Housing is a concern which is regularly highlighted at my advice surgeries and the survey asks what the main housing concerns are for local people such as the availability of affordable housing to buy or rent or the cost of mortgage repayments.

Through the Borders Digital Forum I have held over a number of years, the lack of broadband and mobile phone coverage for Borders communities has been raised as a daily frustration for families and businesses. This survey also offers people an opportunity to outline the service – or lack of it – that they receive. Transport is another vitally important issue for Borderers and through the survey I want to see what improvements to local transport services local people would like to see.

 The Economy

The economic climate continues to be extremely challenging for many companies here in the Borders, but recently there have been some encouraging signs for the UK economy, with unemployment falling and most sectors experiencing some growth. As we work towards economic recovery, the UK Government is committed to doing all it can to help people and companies across Britain. For example, we’re supporting young people into work through the Youth Contract and we have increased personal tax allowances to put money back in the pockets of hardworking Borderers.

In order to cut bills for local businesses we are also reducing Corporation Tax for companies and through the Funding for Lending and National Loan Guarantee schemes, we are working to ensure they have access to the finance they need to grow and create jobs. Locally, our construction sector remains in an extremely challenging position and I welcome moves from the UK Government not only to invest in £9billion of rail improvements for England and Wales, but also to provide extra money to the Scottish Government for them to spend on capital projects. I will be urging the Scottish Government to ensure some of this investment is spent in the Borders to give our local construction sector a much-needed boost.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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