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Henry Smith MP: New schemes to help with the cost of living

Crawley MP Henry Smith, on new Government schemes that aid working families when it comes to childcare, raising of the tax-free Personal Allowance and the introduction and increasing of the National Living Wage.

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One of the most important tasks for working families is to secure affordable and quality childcare, which is why I welcome the latest figures which show more than 4,700 children in West Sussex are benefiting from the Government’s 30 hours free childcare offer.

Working families save around £5,000 per year per child and more than 200,000 children benefited nationally in the scheme’s first term. There are now nearly 300,000 children in 30 hours places in England.

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By 2020, around £6 billion will be spent helping parents with the cost of childcare. In addition to the 30 hours scheme, there is also funding for 15 hours of free childcare for disadvantaged 2 year olds and support for parents through Tax Free Childcare, which provides up to £2,000 per child per year to help towards childcare costs.

Independent evaluation of pilot sites found that access to 30 hours of free childcare not only improved family finances, but supported a better work-life balance and enabled parents to extend their working hours if they wish to do so.

The offer, along with the raising of the tax-free Personal Allowance and the introduction and increasing of the National Living Wage (NLW), is just one scheme brought in to help with the cost of living.

Further increases to the Personal Allowance mean that this April, 31 million people will see their income tax bill cut by over £1,000 since 2010. A total of 4 million of the lowest paid will be taken out of paying income tax altogether.

This week I voted in favour of measures to help working families which will see 50,000 more children become eligible to receive free school meals.

As a result of increases to the Personal Allowance threshold and NLW coming into effect from April, a full-time worker earning the NLW in Crawley will be taking home over £3,800 more per year after tax compared to a full-time minimum wage worker in 2010.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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Henry Smith

Henry Smith: Why supporting NCS is so important

In his article this week Crawley MP Henry Smith talks about the important work of NCS and the community.

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We’ve all taken immense pride in watching one of Crawley’s own, Gareth Southgate, lead the England football team to the World Cup semi-final for the first time in 28 years. He now stands alongside Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson in leading England this far in the tournament, as the nation looks forward to the final stages of the next European Championships being played at Wembley in 2020.

Crawley is rightly proud of Gareth and it would be fitting for a lasting tribute in our town to recognise his work.

A few days before Gareth was appointed permanent England manager in November 2016, I was at a National Citizen Service graduation ceremony in Crawley. We don’t know what our town’s next generation will go on to achieve, but those taking part in NCS have much to offer.

NCS is open to 15 to 17-year-olds and is delivered locally by the Crawley Town Community Foundation. It gives young people the chance to take part in new experiences, develop skills and give back to our community.

Last year I was pleased to speak in Parliament in support of legislation which strengthens the Government’s commitment to NCS, and I was delighted to present a copy of the National Citizen Service Act to the Community Foundation after it became law.

In addition to allowing participants to gain experience of working alone and as part of a team – skills which will help when seeking employment, apprenticeship or university placements in the years ahead – NCS also sees young people undertake social action projects to benefit the local community.

Charities which have benefited as a result of local NCS participation include Crawley Open House, the Springboard Project, St Catherine’s Hospice, the Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre and Save the Children.

NCS is designed to encourage personal and social development through a range of activities and projects requiring leadership, teamwork and communication.

The summer 2018 programme is on course to see the most participants ever – I wish them all the very best! Applications are still open; for more information please visit: www.ctcommunityfoundation.com/ncs

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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