Looking ahead to the Autumn Budget and a proposal to reform Capital Gains Tax on the sale of unused second homes

As we approach the Autumn Budget, MPs have the opportunity to advance their ideas on tax and spending to the Chancellor. The spending part is always easy. We all have projects and injustices that we’d like to see solved with more dollops of money. The money does not come out of thin air, the government has no money – only taxpayers’ money that it has taken through the myriad taxes that we all face.

The problem is that despite having the highest level of tax take as a percentage of the economy since the 1950s and for the first time ever, government tax receipts exceeding £600 Bn, we are still spending more than that to the tune of £35 Bn last year. Some spending relates to long overdue capital infrastructure projects, and it is to be welcomed that day to day revenue expenditure is now broadly in balance. Contrast that with the spending black hole we inherited in 2010 when the previous Labour government was borrowing 1 in every 4 pounds to finance expenditure. This was fantasy economics and was simply piling on debt for future generations to pay and had to stop. My Conservative government has added to the national debt for sure, but has reduced the annual overhang from a staggering £150 Bn in 2010 to the £35 Bn of today.

So the basis for MPs representations to the Chancellor must be revenue neutral, or positive to the Treasury. That makes it a tough ask. There is much debate about the fairness of the Business rating system, which penalises traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses allowing a perceived unfairness in favour of virtual businesses like Amazon, Google and other online giants. Should we tax them more and tax traditional businesses less or would this stifle success? A true moral maze question, but we all have our own ability to steer our personal spending back to the High Street and away from the convenience of the internet.

A key tax change I have advanced is a Capital Gains Tax relief for those selling unused holiday home properties, often held by older people who come from out of area. It sounds generous on paper to those who are fortunate enough to hold such assets, but the reality is that too many smaller properties, ideal first-time buyer sized, and often in tourist locations where there are housing pressures, are simply bound up, unused and unlikely to ever be freed up until the death of the owner because of the penal nature of the tax system. Freeing up such units could liberate hundreds of thousands of properties onto the market, and save green spaces earmarked for development in the process.

I’ve had numerous media appearances over the past few weeks on a diverse range of issues covering the rising fear of county lines/drug and gang violence in Kent, lots of Brexit issues as I advance my opposition to the Chequers proposals in favour of a wide-ranging Canada style free trade agreement, women and Burqas following Boris Johnson’s high octane article in August on the issue. I also managed to get coverage for a local resident of Broadstairs who has faced 9 years of sheer hell from both Southern Water and her insurance company – Ageas following a water leak of 9 years ago.

I do hope that jobseekers will take the opportunity to visit my Thanet Jobs fair, organised in conjunction with the DWP locally at the “Hall by the Sea”, Dreamland on Friday 5th October from 10 am to 4pm, and that listed property owners take advantage of the Listed Property Owners forum at the Guildhall, Sandwich on Saturday 13th October. With 1,500 listed properties across South Thanet this is an opportunity to get advice from specialists. Email me for any further details that you need at craig.mackinlay.mp@parliament.uk.

Latest figures show more people in South Thanet are saving for their retirement

South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay, has welcomed new figures showing that, due to changes to workplace pensions, 7000 more people in the South Thanet constituency, and over 9 million people nationally, are now saving for their retirement. 

Auto-enrolment in workplace pensions was introduced so that more workers can save for retirement and have greater financial security and independence in their retirement.

Figures released last week show that the number of workplace pension schemes has reached a record high of 41.1 million in 2017, up nearly 50 per cent in the last six years.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

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“By introducing automatic enrolment, we’re transforming the way people save for retirement.

“Our careful management of the economy – as well as important changes to help people save more for their retirement – means more families can plan for the long-term with the security of a pension.

“For a whole generation, workplace pension saving is now the new normal, but there’s more to do to help more people than ever before build an enjoyable and secure retirement.”

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, said:

“Today’s figures show just how extraordinarily successful automatic enrolment has been in revolutionising pensions saving in this country, and has no sign of stopping.

“With almost 10 million more people saving in a pension through auto-enrolment, statistics are showing the total membership of workplace pension schemes is now at a record high of 41.1 million in 2017, up nearly 50 per cent in the last six years.

“Not only are millions more people moving into work, but they are putting money aside for their futures as a result of our reforms, showing we are returning to a society of savers where individuals are in control of their own money.”

Pfizer, animal welfare and the future of Ramsgate's commercial port

I’ll try to keep away from focusing entirely on Brexit issues in this week’s column, there’ll be plenty of analysis of that as we return to Parliament and enter the Party conference season. The government has started to publish a series of “no deal” preparation papers and it is to be welcomed that the government is considering all options as the intransigence of the EU negotiators continues. Little noticed legislation has been going through Parliament over the past few months which gives the government flexibility for a range of outcomes. More papers will be rolled out over the coming weeks but I maintain my position that the Chequers plan does not represent Brexit and must be rejected. An ambitious Free Trade Agreement, on the lines of the Canada deal, will in my view deliver the referendum result, keeps relations with the EU on a friendly and professional basis and is the way forwards as we re-establish ourselves as a new Global Britain. Alternatively, if all else fails, then we should have no fears of a World Trade Organisation deal.

I reported on my fascinating visit to FujiFilm in Broadstairs a few weeks ago, and it was similarly my pleasure to visit the Pfizer facility within Discovery Park just last week. After posting details on social media many posted that they thought it had closed. Far from it. Whilst large scale manufacturing was relocated, the Sandwich site remains a hugely important part of Pfizer’s international operations for development and testing of advanced manufacturing processes. The staff count is over 700 and is experiencing steady growth. Pfizer at Sandwich plays some part in virtually every pharmaceutical product within the Pfizer family. I had a fascinating visit to the facility, and a wide-ranging discussion with the senior team as to what Kent could be as a UK hub of STEM technology, an area in which we do not, as a county, punch at our true weight.

There is much debate as to the future of Ramsgate’s commercial port with contributions becoming heated and at times unnecessarily personal. As you’ll be aware I have long campaigned for a marina village vision for the 32 acres of prime land that we have on our doorstep. There is currently heightened talk of a potential ferry. All well and good, as Thanet District Council needs a profitable use for this costly site which bears rent, rates and security costs. I am sure all will be resolved over the coming months, so a call for everyone to calm down and work together for the benefit of the locality.

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) keeps good news coming on animal welfare with a consultation on the banning of third party puppy and kitten sales and a ban on e-shock collars. There is one final ‘ban’ that I’m hoping to see, and that is of live animals for export. You can be sure that I and the huge number of committed campaigners will be keeping up pressure for this to be a reality as soon as possible.

Welcome to the Autumn.

Record low number of children in workless households means more security for families in South Thanet

Craig Mackinlay MP has welcomed new figures showing that there are 47,330 fewer children in workless households in the South East since 2010. The number of children living in households with no one working is at a record low, meaning fewer children are living in families without the security of work. Since last year, 29,000 fewer children across the United Kingdom are living in workless households.

Overall across Britain the number of workless households is down 964,000 since 2010, with the proportion of workless households now at its lowest level since records began in 1996. The fall over the last year was 11,000.

Craig Mackinlay MP said:

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“It’s excellent to see the number of children in workless households falling – with 47,330 fewer across the South East since 2010. This means more children in families in South Thanet with the security that comes with a good job and a regular pay packet.

“This is further evidence that the Conservatives’ reforms to welfare and support for business to create more jobs, as part of our work to build a stronger economy, is working.

“We are working hard to build a stronger and fairer economy - delivering a brighter, more secure future for families in South Thanet - but there is more to do. That’s why we are investing in a modern Industrial Strategy to build a country that works for everyone.”