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Volume 748: debated on Friday 19 April 2024


Friday 19 April 2024

Presented Petition

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor

Road safety at the junction of B671 from Elton village onto the A605

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares deep concern regarding the ongoing hazards at the junction of B671 from Elton village onto the A605, which has seen a distressing history of road traffic accidents and fatalities; further that the lack of safety measures, such as a roundabout, speed restrictions, or traffic lights, raises significant alarm; notes that despite existing cameras monitoring an average speed of 60MPH, accidents persist, highlighting the inadequacy of current measures; further that urgent reconsideration of installing traffic lights and speed restrictions is imperative, not only for local residents’ safety but also for commuters on the A605; further notes that given the success of traffic lights at the Barnwell A605 junction and their cost-effectiveness, their implementation should be swiftly considered; further declares that the financial and emotional toll of accidents, spanning back to the bypass construction in 1990, underscores the urgency for action; further notes that over the past two decades, our community has endured tragic losses from road accidents, with the first recorded in 2000, and the resulting injuries, fatalities, property damages, and strain on law enforcement and medical resources have been extensive, estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds; further declares that immediate improvements are overdue, and we implore the authorities to prioritise the necessary measures to safeguard our roads and communities; and further that the introduction of the Elton bypass neglected pedestrian safety entirely, evidenced by the hazardous crossing conditions at the public footpaths.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to put pressure on the county council responsible and ask that this matter be addressed promptly, and consider appropriate measures to ensure the safety of local residents and commuters at the junction of B671 from Elton village onto the A605.

And the petitioners remain, etc.



Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Blackpool's Waterloo Road and Bond Street region

The petition of residents of the constituency of Blackpool South,

Declares that the Government and Blackpool Council should consider the need for regeneration funding to be provided for the area surrounding Waterloo Road and Bond Street in Blackpool.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take into account the concerns of the petitioners and take immediate action to ensure that residents and business are adequately supported through relevant regeneration funds, and to ensure the Government works with Blackpool Council to ensure comprehensive plans to develop plans are prepared in conjunction with local stakeholders.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Scott Benton, Official Report, 19 February 2024; Vol. 745, c. 560.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Jacob Young):

Since the Government announced their commitment to work in partnership with Blackpool Council in March 2022, a concerted effort between Blackpool, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Homes England and other Government Departments has worked to ensure Blackpool has the right housing, economic and skills offer to achieve its vision to “Make Blackpool Better”—to be a great place to live and work, and to be one of the leading seaside destinations in the UK.

We also recognise that the local council, with all its local knowledge and understanding, is clearly the best placed organisation to take responsibility for, and deliver, many programmes locally.

I visited Blackpool in January and got the opportunity to see some of the fantastic work currently being undertaken locally to improve the standards of homes in the town, with Government support.

Blackpool has received more than £100 million of levelling-up funding since 2019, as well as the £40 million DLUHC-funded court relocation project, releasing Ministry of Justice-occupied land and safeguarding a £300 million private sector-led scheme set to bring up to 1,000 jobs to the town while also providing the town with a new modern courthouse.

Levelling-up funding includes £40 million from round 2 of the levelling-up fund to create a state-of-the-art learning centre called the “Multiversity” for over 1,000 people, which will replace the ageing Blackpool and the Fylde College facilities with new state-of-the-art facilities in the town centre. Another £15 million from round 3 of the fund will improve traffic flow, access to public transport, and infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

The town is benefiting from nearly £40 million of investment from our towns fund which is being spent on a host of job-creating, tourism-boosting projects.

To unlock Blackpool’s economic potential, there is a need for more and safer homes in well-designed neighbourhoods, which help attract and retain skilled residents in the town.

The Renters (Reform) Bill will apply a decent homes standard to the private rented sector for the first time. This will ensure tenants benefit from homes that are safe and decent, and support the Government’s ambition to reduce the number of non-decent rented homes by 50% by 2030. The decent homes standard will help landlords by simplifying and clarifying requirements and establishing a level playing field, backed up by consistent enforcement.

A pilot for the decent homes standard is running in Blackpool to improve standards in areas that are in greatest need as part of our mission to halve the number of non-decent homes by 2030.

Since 2021 Blackpool has been awarded:

£55,400,000 in levelling-up fund money (round 2—£40 million from January 2023 and round 3—£15.4 million from November 2023)

£90 million regeneration investment

£8,000,000 in capital regeneration project funding

£5,885,134 in UK shared prosperity fund funding

£778,638 in community renewal funding and

£39,500,000 town deal funding.


Pensioners’ Personal Tax Allowance

The petition of residents of the constituency of Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Regrets that the Chancellor’s Spring Budget ignored the fiscal drag that pensioners are experiencing due to the policy on freezing Personal Tax allowance until April 2028; declares that this policy disproportionately affects pensioners who do not gain from cuts to National Insurance; notes this policy creates poorer pensioners who are already impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to consider the soaring costs of food and energy bills for pensioners when setting the Personal Tax allowance.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Martyn Day, Official Report, 19 March 2024; Vol. 747, c. 904.]


Observation from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, (Nigel Huddleston):

The Government thank the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day) for submitting the petition on behalf of his constituents regarding pensioners and the income tax personal allowance.

The Government are committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and the state pension is the foundation of state support for older people. Thanks to the Government honouring their commitment to the triple lock, the basic and new state pensions increased by 8.5% this April, one of the largest ever cash increases in the state pension. This will support the income of over 12 million pensioners. The full rate of the new state pension is now worth £11,500 per year, while the full basic state pension is £3,700 higher, in cash terms, than in 2010. That is £990 more than if it had been uprated by prices, and £1,000 more than if it had been uprated by earnings.

The PA—the amount of income that each individual may receive before paying income tax—is currently set at a level high enough to ensure that those pensioners whose sole income is the full rate of the new state pension or basic state pension do not pay any income tax.

With respect to individuals above the state pension age who continue to work, many will pay a lower rate of tax on their income from work, as they do not pay national insurance.

The Government also provide pensioners with winter fuel payments, free eye tests, free NHS prescriptions, and free bus passes. The total support over 2022 to 2024 to help households and individuals with higher bills amounts to £96 billion—an average of £3,400 per UK household. This includes the cost of living payments in 2023-24, which helped more than 8 million UK households on eligible means-tested benefits, including pensioners receiving pension credit, 8 million pensioner households and 6 million people across the UK on eligible disability benefits.

The petitioners raise concerns about the PA being maintained at its current level until 2028. The Government have nearly doubled the PA since 2010—it is over 20% higher in real terms—ensuring some of the lowest earners do not pay income tax. Thanks to the PA, almost a quarter of individuals with taxable income will not pay income tax in 2024-25.

Due to the significant real terms increases to the PA, it is estimated there will be 1.8 million people taken out of income tax in 2024-25, compared to the threshold rising in line with inflation from 2010-11. This will include many pensioners.

The Government did make the difficult but necessary decision to maintain income tax thresholds at current levels to ensure the tax system supports strong public finances. Maintaining these thresholds is universal, progressive and fair. The highest earners will contribute more of the revenue.

As with all aspects of the tax system, the Government keep the PA under review and any decisions on future changes to the PA will be made by the Chancellor in the context of the wider public finances.