Earlier this week, I voted for the national living wage and I don’t think I have ever been prouder to be a Conservative – or done something that will benefit more of the people I represent in the Grantham area.
As a result of last week’s budget, working people over the age of 25 who are currently receiving the minimum wage of £6.50 an hour will get a pay rise to £7.20 an hour next April and further rises to £9 an hour by 2020.
People under the age of 25 will continue to receive the national minimum wage until they turn 25. This too will go up from £6.50 to £6.70 in October.
David Cameron and George Osborne believe, as I do, that it is better for people to earn higher wages from their employers, and pay less in tax, than have low wages topped up by tax credits that are paid for by other taxpayers.
Tax credits will remain but some of them will be cut and we will also be cutting the cap on the total benefits most households can receive from £26,000 a year to £20,000 a year.
This is the future we want for our country: one where people can earn higher wages, pay lower taxes and rely less on benefits.
I do not minimise the difficulties that some people will face in budgeting for cuts in their tax credits. And I will always be ready and willing to do everything I can to help my constituents secure the benefits and other support they deserve.
But I am certain that it is in everyone’s interests, and in the interest of the country as a whole, for employers to be required to step up to the mark and pay a decent living wage, while the Government focuses taxpayers’ money on improving the quality of the NHS and other public services, guaranteeing decent pensions for those who have worked hard all their lives and securing the future of the armed forces and intelligence services that keep us safe.