WESTMINSTER DIARY: An increase in the Living Wage is welcome

With Sir John Redwood

This week the government announced a 5% rise in the National Living Wage to £8.21 an hour.

The Minimum Wage for younger employees aged between 21 and 24 years was increased to £7.70.

This was welcome news, as real incomes were badly hit by the slump of 2009 and have been rising more slowly this decade than before the crash.

It is good news that the UK economy is growing faster than Italy or Germany, and is still generating many extra jobs for people.

Most of these jobs are now full-time ones.

The aim is to help people through better education and training to move into better paid jobs as they study and improve their skills.

We need a more productive economy which means working smarter.

As people do that so employers can afford better pay levels for their staff.

Pay is now rising faster than prices on average, providing a small boost to spending power which is much needed.

The local economy in Wokingham and West Berkshire is on the whole doing well, with very low unemployment and plenty of new job opportunities.

There is an abundance of building work underway, causing problems with road closures and worries about builders traffic in some locations.

The Council are the Highways authority and need to hear from residents where there are problems they can sort out through phasing and management of street works and regulation of construction access to site.

I am working on trying to get agreement to a lower rate of housing growth for the next plan period, as we need to protect green gaps between settlements and the rural surroundings of our towns and villages which is an important part of the quality of life and local environment.

The Council is consulting on what to do going forward, as it needs to balance the need for more homes with the wish of residents to protect the countryside and avoid too much pressure on local roads and services.

Sir John Redwood is the MP for Wokingham.

Next week: Matt Rodda MP for Reading East

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