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Budget boost for Bristol South

Letter from Westminster - 21 March 2005

As well as being the MP for Bristol South, I also have a role within government. Being Paymaster General gives me a fantastic opportunity to work alongside Gordon Brown to progress many of the policies that I know, from my constituency postbag, are important to local people.

Older residents were given lots to cheer about in this Budget. There will be more help with paying the council tax, as every pensioner household - 65 and over - who pays the council tax will be given a refund of £200, alongside the Winter Fuel Allowance. From next April, over 60s will benefit from free off peak local bus travel; and, from this April, all pensioners entering hospital will continue to receive their full basic pension and entitlement to benefits for the duration of their stay.

The Chancellor was also able to make a commitment to families that we will boost the child element of the Child Tax Credit to £1,690 next month, and increase it at least in line with earnings every year until 2007-08. He confirmed that the adult rate of the minimum wage will increase thhis year and next, and extended help to first time buyers, by doubling the threshold at which stamp duty is paid.

Finally, with the economy growing well, and because we are meeting our fiscal rules for the public finances, the Budget detailed investment in education, our number one priority. Under Labour's plans, half of England's primary schools will be rebuilt or radically refurbished with most schools receiving additional facilities such as parents centres, ICT suites, and other extended services.

Not a bad Budget for Bristol South, I believe - but what do you think? Let me know by calling 0117 909 0063 or email primarolod@parliament.uk

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