Mercury column – October 2017

It doesn’t seem possible that yet again I am writing my monthly Mercury column from my party’s annual political gathering, as we come to the end of another conference season. So much has happened over the last year, not just in Britain with a general election in between but across the world – with a new, President in the White House. Our world can seem at times uncertain and unstable as it is jolted by terrorist extremism and the tragic events like those we have seen in Las Vegas this week.

Domestic politics has naturally been dominated by the European Union and the details of any Brexit deal. Yet here in Manchester, Brexit is not the dominant theme amongst politicians, Conservative Party activists and the legion of lobbyists representing both companies and charities. There’s a determination that the vast range of everyday domestic issues any Government needs to address are discussed as well, albeit with a recognition that many of these are affected by Brexit in some way.

You can see this determination to set a clear and distinctive message on how the Government can build a fairer Britain, demonstrated by our Prime Minister Theresa May. During this week, along with her ministers, she is setting our clear, effective, policies that will help society. We’ve already been addressing the weaknesses in our housing market, where there are not enough new homes to meet demand and where young people find it difficult to get on the housing ladder. We are now tackling the problems within the rental market, with new laws to ban unfair and unjustified letting agent’s fees, as well strengthening tenant’s rights to crack down on rogue landlords. There’s positive news for students, with an announcement on changes to student loans benefitting graduates. Even Martin Lewis, founder of the Money Saving Expert, says “This will save many lower and middle earning graduates £1,000s … Every single graduate, earning over £21,000 a year will pay less. And it has a long term progressive benefit too.” And the Government has listened to concerns about some of the initial impacts of the introduction of Universal Credit, those in need will now automatically be offered an advance payment before their claim is processed.

Room doesn’t allow me to go through the whole list in this month’s column and I look forward to sharing others in more detail over the next few months.