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When George Osborne was the Chancellor for the Conservatives, he outlined a plan to cut Inheritance Tax to the point where a couple could receive a £1million home without paying anything.

The current Conservative Chancellor, Philip Hammond, did nothing to cancel this in the recent Spring Budget so, starting next month, the threshold for Inheritance Tax will rise from its current £325,000 per person to £500,000 by 2020.

This change is expected to cost the Treasury £1billion by 2021. This is money that could be invested in our long term future; transport, the NHS, early years education. Instead the cut will likely benefit 0.04% of people in England.

New research revealed by my colleague, Rachel Reeves MP, shows that this tax cut will strengthen the North-South divide. Money that could have helped address inequalities across the country will now be concentrated in a small number of households in London and the South East.

In 2015-16, of the 100 constituencies with the highest number of property sales over £650,000 (the current Inheritance Tax threshold for a couple) 96 are in London or the South-East.

The average sold price in Bolton North East was £125,000. We ranked 430 out of 573 constituencies in England and Wales with just 0.7% of homes sold for over £650k.

We should be looking to end the North-South divide, not cutting services in Bolton to give more money to the wealthiest families in London.

This policy once again shows that this Conservative Government have their priorities wrong. There so many better ways to improve our economy and raise living standards.

Inheritance Tax - A cut for the South

  When George Osborne was the Chancellor for the Conservatives, he outlined a plan to cut Inheritance Tax to the point where a couple could receive a £1million home without...

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This afternoon Parliament will discuss the ongoing problem of fuel poverty.

Four million households across the UK, including 4679 households here in Bolton North East, cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

Living in a cold home can have a hugely detrimental impact on people’s physical and mental health. It is estimated that the effects of cold homes costs the NHS £1.6 billion each year. No one in Bolton or anywhere else deserves to live in a damp and mouldy home.

The standard of our housing is central to this problem. Poorer families often find themselves in homes that are not well insulated and cost more to heat. Fuel poor households in the North West typically need to pay £352 more each year than their more affluent neighbours to sustain a warm home.

I was proud of the progress that the last Labour Government made in this area. Investment in insulation and boiler upgrade schemes helped so many families and this work should have been built on. Instead the Conservatives have ended much of the support that was available and made it much harder for people to access. The funding for insulation has been cut by 80%.

Labour continue to call for investment in energy efficient homes as a priority for infrastructure investment. It would create skilled jobs, improve public health, aid efforts to combat climate change, and put more money into the pockets of families who need it the most. It is a smart investment in our future.

Cold_Homes_Week_cropped_2.jpgSupporting Cold Homes Week 2015 in Parliament

 

No more cold homes

  This afternoon Parliament will discuss the ongoing problem of fuel poverty. Four million households across the UK, including 4679 households here in Bolton North East, cannot afford to heat...

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Labour has a proud history of standing up for workers’ rights and using the powers of Government to protect those rights in law.

I am proud to live in a country where people have a minimum wage, paid holidays, maternity and paternity leave, and time off when you are ill.

These are things many of us take for granted, but they were hard fought for over many years. Before I got into politics I remember negotiating with my employer at a local factory to provide a sick pay scheme, to prevent people having to literally work until they dropped.

A lot has changed since then, but new types of employment are putting those rights at risk. Just in the last few days there have been reports of workers being fined £150 a day for being ill. We must address the problem of false self-employment in the so-called “gig economy” and ensure basic rights for workers are not eroded.


What is false self-employment?

There are two broad classifications of work. If you are self-employed you own your own business. If you’re an employee then you work for someone else and they have additional responsibilities towards you as their employee.

False self-employment occurs when you are treated as a contractor even though you have little or no freedom. You are an employee of the company in all but name. It is used by some employers to evade taxes and take on workers without having to respect employment rights and entitlements.

Workers engaged in false self-employment miss out on rights such as:

•Paid sick leave

•Holiday pay

•Overtime rates

•Redundancy pay

•Travel allowances

•Pension contributions

•National Insurance contributions

•Employment protections

This is not a new problem. It has been prominent in the construction industry and I am proud of the work Labour has done in the past to try and address this. Unfortunately it is becoming a bigger issue across different types of work as new technologies allow for new models of employment.


The gig economy

The gig economy refers to employment where instead of receiving a regular wage from their employer workers get paid for the "gigs" they do, such as a food delivery or a car journey.

In theory this model should empower workers. You can have flexible hours, work when and how much you want to, receive an income from multiple sources, and balance work around other commitments in your life.

In practice though we have seen some employers take advantage of this by wrongly classifying workers as self-employed. They are not empowering workers, they are stripping away their security and their basic rights as employees.

There have been several high profile examples of these employment practices being questioned, including Hermes, Deliveroo, City Sprint and Uber. This business model continues to grow and will undoubtedly play a role in new emerging industries and the Government needs to take action now to stop workers falling into the false self-employment trap.

I have been questioning Government Ministers about false self-employment and I am pleased to see that they have launched a review to see how these issues can be addressed. I am concerned, however, that the main focus of the review is likely to be lost revenue for the Treasury, rather than the protection of workers’ rights.

I am keen to hear from any local residents who may have been affected by these issues.

Workers’ rights at risk

  Labour has a proud history of standing up for workers’ rights and using the powers of Government to protect those rights in law. I am proud to live in...

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