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"Greg Hands M.P." <> To: <> Reply-To: <> News Bulletin from Greg Hands M.P.


25 March 2013 00:30

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In this edition:
Greg Hands M.P.s Diary Websites of the Week: H&F and K&C Councils Hands in the papers: Kensington digs in with ban on 'mega basements' Photo news: Meeting with H&F Council Leader, Cllr. Nick Botterill A Budget message from George Osborne Hands: An income tax cut for over 42,000 people in Chelsea and Fulham News from Greg's surgery Photo news: British Science Exhibition Equitable Life justice for pensioners Increase in local Right to Buy discount welcomed All Time High for Primary School Applications in Hammersmith & Fulham K&C Council calls time on "iceberg" homes How to contact Greg Hands M.P.

Issue 367 Monday 25th March 2013

Since the last edition, Greg:

Accompanied the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne, for the delivery of his 2013 Budget statement in the House of Commons. For more on the Budget, see below. Met H&F Council leader Cllr. Nicholas Botterill and deputy leader Cllr. Greg Smith, in Hammersmith Town Hall to discuss the Councils welcome new 3% Council tax cut, local development schemes, creating more free schools and the future of local hospitals. For photo, see below. Visited an exhibition in Parliament on the work of Imperial College and other universities on science and technology research. Greg visited the display of local Chelsea PhD student, Stephanie Walton (for photo, see below). Attended and addressed the Annual General Meeting of the Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservatives, held at Chelsea Old Town Hall. Held a weekly surgery for Chelsea and Fulham residents at Peter Jones, Sloane Square, Chelsea. Gregs surgeries are held generally every Monday at Fulham Methodist Church, or at Peter Jones, Sloane Square. To make an appointment, email or call 020 7219 5448. Had a full schedule of activity as a Governments Treasury Whip in and around the chamber of the House of Commons, including the Budget itself, ministerial meetings and organising votes and standing committees, including the Banking Reform Bill.

Website of the Week:

The websites of the two high performing local councils, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea. The two councils have the third and fourth lowest Council taxes in the country, yet provide some of the best social services and schools in the UK, showing how government can combine low tax with excellent services.

Hands in the papers:

Kensington digs in with ban on 'mega basements'

Jonathan Prynn, Consumer Business Editor, Evening Standard Thursday 21st March 2013 The iceberg home mega basements dug three or four storeys into the ground with private cinemas, spas and swimming pools are set to be banned in one of Londons most affluent areas. New draft rules that will limit basements to a single storey and impose much tighter limits on how far they can extend under a garden were today published by Kensington and Chelsea council. The move follows a huge surge in applications for basements over recent years as wealthy owners have sought to by-pass planning restrictions on changes to their homes above ground by massively extending their living space underneath. The subterranean extensions have often outraged local residents because of the noise, dust and disruption caused by digging them out, which can last for up to two years. One recent applications approved by the council came from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova. The couple want to dig out a two-storey basement at their riverside home in Cheyne Walk as part of a 10 million project that neighbours said would create a dusty mayhem of a sprawling construction site in a peaceful conservation area. One of the most notorious applications was by former Foxtons estate agency owner Jon Hunt who successfully submitted plans for a cavernous basement under his home in Kensington Palace Gardens that included a tennis court and a showroom for his collection of Ferraris. As well as blocking multi-storey basements in most cases the new draft rules will limit the amount of space that can be taken up under the garden from 85 per cent to 50 per cent; stop basements being dug under listed buildings and require the compulsory installation of pumps to prevent flooding from sewers. The Tory-run councils Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, Councillor Tim Ahern, said: If the cumulative impact of scores of schemes that take months and years to complete is to damage the wider quality of life in our borough I believe we have a right to take that into account. We also need to retain our soakaway areas and for that you need space wide enough and deep enough. Basements that are storeys deep do not help. Planning experts said the clampdown is likely to lead to a temporary rise in applications before the new rules come into effect at the end of the year. The number of applications has surged in recent years in the borough from just 64 a decade ago to 307 last year. Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, said disruption caused by basement digging was now one of the top five complaints in his constituency post-bag. He said: Basement excavations have caused massive inconvenience to neighbours and other residents.

Photo news:

Meeting with H&F Council Leader, Cllr. Nick Botterill

Greg Hands M.P. congratulating Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader, Cllr. Nick Botterill, on delivering another 3% Council Tax cut this year.

A Budget message from George Osborne

My budget supports everyone who wants to work hard and get on. In a tough economic situation, the British people know there are no easy answers or short cuts. But we are succeeding, slowly but surely, in fixing those problems. We've now cut Labour's record deficit by not just by a quarter - but by a third. We've helped create 1.25 million new private sector jobs. Interest rates remain at record lows. This government inherited the largest deficit of any major economy. Labour's plans to borrow even more would take us backwards. Instead, by making savings from bureaucracy, from the benefits bill, and by ensuring that the better off play their part, we are able to do more to boost jobs and help families. To compete in the global race: We're creating a new Employment Allowance to help small firms take on more staff. By taking 2,000 off the employer national insurance bill of every company, we will take around 450,000 small businesses out of paying any jobs tax at all - that's one third of all employers. While Labour proposed putting a tax on jobs, we're taking tax off jobs. Cutting corporation tax to 20 per cent from April 2015, giving us the most competitive rate in the G20. And we are abolishing stamp duty on shares traded on growth markets such as AIM, which will support growth and jobs across the UK. Improving infrastructure by boosting capital investment by 15 billion over the rest of this decade. Public investment will now be higher on average as a percentage of our national income under our plans than it was in the whole period of the last Government. To support aspiration and help people who want to work and get on: The personal tax allowance will be increased to 10,000 next year. Families will pay over 700 less in income tax than when this government came to office. 24 million people will pay less tax. We're introducing Tax Free Childcare. We're giving people 20% off, equivalent to the basic rate of tax, on the first 6,000 of their childcare costs for each child. Introducing Help to Buy. We're supporting people who want their own home, but can't afford the increased deposits that lenders now require. We're using the Government's fiscal credibility to support a Mortgage Guarantee to help lenders offer mortgages to people with a deposit of between 5 per cent and 20 per cent. This should dramatically increase their availability. Cancelling the September fuel duty increase altogether. Pump prices will be 13 pence per litre lower than if we had not acted over these last three years to freeze fuel duty. We're taking a penny off the price of a pint of beer. This will save drinkers 4 pence a pint compared to the last government's plans. I believe the way to restore our economic prosperity is to energise the aspirations of the British people. For years people have felt that the whole system was tilted against those who did the right thing: who worked, who saved, who aspired. But these are very people we need to support if Britain is to have a future. So this is a Budget for people who work hard and want to get on. It is a Budget for a Britain that wants to be prosperous, solvent and free. Yours sincerely, George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer

Hands: An income tax cut for over 42,000 people in Chelsea and Fulham
Greg Hands M.P. has heralded the tax cut at the centre of this weeks budget. The amount people can earn before paying income tax the personal allowance will rise to 10,000 in April 2014. Hard working people in Chelsea and Fulham will be over 700 better off every year than when this Government came to office. Almost three million more of the lowest paid will pay no income tax at all. This tax cut will benefit an estimated 42,567 people in Chelsea and Fulham. Next April 2014, 400 will be lifted out of income tax altogether, taking the total number of people in Chelsea and Fulham lifted out of tax by the Government to an estimated 4,283. Labour want to reintroduce the 10p tax band that they abolished. Conservatives in Government have now turned Labours 10p tax band into a zero-pence tax band. Every person paying tax at the 10p rate when Labour doubled it will now be paying no income tax at all on that income. Commenting, Greg Hands M.P. said: This Budget has delivered real support for people who aspire to work hard and get on. Over 42,000 people in Chelsea and Fulham will be over 700 better off every year. With this landmark tax cut, Conservatives have cut tax bills for 24 million people.

News from Greg's surgery

On Monday, Greg Hands held his surgery at Peter Jones, Sloane Square. He met with ten constituents to discuss their concerns which included anti-social behaviour and care for the elderly. One constituent visited the surgery to discuss her problem with HM Revenue & Customs. Like 250,000 other people across Britain, this Fulham resident explained to Greg that she had received a demand for unpaid tax due to errors in her pension tax code. The problems arose in 2008 and 2009, but in this residents case HMRC were only now seeking payment. Greg has written to Lin Homer, Chief Executive of HMRC, to ask her to explain why this constituent is only now being contacted. Over two years since the Treasury originally raised the issue in the House of Commons. If constituents believe their Member of Parliament can assist with their problem Greg is keen to hear from them. Greg said: I hold my surgeries almost every week of the year and I aim to solve the problem, or at least get my constituents an answer. To make an appointment contact me on or call 0207 219 5448.

Photo news:

British Science Exhibition

Greg Hands M.P. with local Chelsea PhD student Stephanie Walton displaying her work in Parliament this week as part of an exhibition showing the best of British science.

Equitable Life justice for pensioners

The Chancellor announced in the Budget that money will be made available to more victims of Equitable Life. The Government will make ex-gratia payments of 5,000 to Equitable Life policyholders who bought their With Profits Annuity before 1992. The Government will also make an extra 5,000 available to those on the lowest incomes who are on pension credit. There is no legal obligation to make either of these payments. Greg Hands M.P. has welcomed the news, saying: "I am proud that two years ago Conservatives in Government set aside 1.5 billion to help so many of my constituents who had been let down when Equitable Life failed. "Now we are helping another 9,000 people across the country. "It took nearly a decade for the last Labour Government to own up to their responsibilities. We acted immediately. This will make a huge difference to the many older people who were affected in Chelsea and Fulham."

Increase in local Right to Buy discount welcomed

Budget measures to create jobs and growth by kick starting the housing market including an increased right-to-buy discount for Londoners have been welcomed by the council which originally called for them. Calls from Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council to extend the rightto-buy discount in London to 100,000 and unleash a new generation of home-ownership in the capital have been included by the Chancellor in todays budget. More social tenants will get the opportunity of home ownership as the qualifying period for right-to-buy is reduced, from five years to three years, and the maximum discount rose to 100,000. Since the 75,000 discount came into effect last year, six right-to-buy sales have been completed in H&F, with a further 37 awaiting completion. Any measures that encourage a new generation of homeowners and kick start new house building and create jobs in the process should be welcomed, said Cllr Andrew Johnson, H&F Council cabinet member for housing. Our borough has some of the most expensive housing in the country and this increased discount will allow thousands of decent, hard-working Londoners to take that vital first step into home ownership. H&F has been at the forefront of recent changes in housing policy. For example, from April, lifetime social housing tenancies for new applicants will be a thing of the past in H&F after the council tightened the rules to make it easier for local people, who have a five year connection to the borough, to access social housing. The council will only issue fixed-term tenancies of five years for new social housing lettings. This will be reduced to two years in certain cases. The council will also be giving greater priority to working households who have a five-year local connection to the borough when allocating social housing. The council will prioritise those making a significant contribution to the community, for example ex-service personnel and foster carers. At the same time, households earning above 40,200 will be prevented from accessing the housing register and instead directed towards low-cost home-ownership options. The council is also set to build up to 500 new homes on council land over the next five to ten years through its local housing company and a joint venture with a private sector partner. In one of the biggest house-building projects of its kind, the council is determined to make it easier for residents to purchase a home in the borough by developing low-cost home-ownership schemes. By working with a private developer through a joint venture, rather than simply selling the blocks to get a capital receipt, the council will be able to retain greater control over what the land is used for and make its housing assets work much harder. The council will also receive a share of the profits - far in excess of the amount it would receive if it simply sold the land off. The proceeds will be ploughed back into similar schemes, estate improvements and reducing the councils 200million of housing debt. If these sites were to be sold on the open market, the council would be likely to receive far less money and retain less control. Cllr Johnson continues: We are committed to expanding home ownership opportunities. At present low cost homes to buy in this borough are like gold dust but we want to change that and instead create a borough of housing opportunity where decent, hard-working local residents can fulfil their housing dreams and purchase a property for a reasonable price. Greg Hands M.P. added: "George Osborne's announcement increasing the maximum discount in London on Right to Buy properties is welcome news in Chelsea & Fulham, and will boost local people getting on the housing ladder. John Prescott cut the discount from 50,000 in 1999 to almost nothing, and now we see the discount being increased to twice the level it was when Labour took office nationally in 1997." For right-to-buy advice in H&F email h&

All Time High for Primary School Applications in Hammersmith & Fulham
The number of children applying for places in primary schools in Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) has increased this year, to an all-time high. A total of 1,571 residents have applied for a place at a school in the borough this year - up 73 on last year and up 156 on 2011 - with another 413 children from other boroughs applying to H&F schools. The most oversubscribed school was the new West London Free School primary school, which received planning permission to develop its Cambridge Grove site this week, with a total of 394 applications for 60 places, as parents of 135 children choose it as their first preference school. The free school was closely followed in popularity by Brackenbury, which received 385 applications for 60 places and John Betts with 340 applications for 30 places. The council created bulge classes for September 2012 at these schools, which fall in the central Hammersmith area, where demand is greatest. There is also a new permanent two-form entry at St Stephens Primary School Primary School. Holy Cross bilingual French-English stream, run in conjunction with LEcole Marie dOrliac, has drawn more than 174 applications for just 28 places, with 90 parents choosing it as their first preference, while Larmenier & Sacred Heart had 190 applications in total. Cllr Helen Binmore, H&F Council cabinet member for childrens services, said: Parents are continuing to choose local schools for their children and the increase in the number of children applying to our schools is another great boost for the councils Schools of Choice programme, which is about prioritising parental preferences when considering expansion or development of schools. When it comes to making decisions about their childrens education, we want parents to be able to choose from a range of top quality local schools. The fact that the West London Free School is the most oversubscribed primary in the borough shows that local parents are incredibly supportive about the variety of schools and freedom they have when choosing education in H&F. Ultimately, this councils aim is to reach the point where all our schools offer a first class education from experienced and excellent teachers. Burlington Danes Academy in White City is looking to open a new two-form entry primary school in 2014 either on or next to its existing secondary school in Wood Lane. A consultation on the proposals is currently being carried out and, if the school does go ahead, then 60 places would be made available every year to local children - places that are much needed. There are currently 1,588 school places available in H&F schools. Parents will be notified on April 17 if their children have received a school place for this coming September. Greg Hands M.P. added: "One of my top priorities in both Chelsea and Fulham is to work with our Government and with our local councils to deliver more school places. In both boroughs, we have some of the very best schools across the country, and we need to make sure there are places available for all local children".

K&C Council calls time on "iceberg" homes

Stricter planning rules could spell the end of mega-basements in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Six weeks of public consultation on the proposed policies will get underway on 21 March 2013. Designed to introduce a sense of proportionality to basement proposals, the draft policies include: A reduction in the extent basements can intrude into the garden, from 85 per cent to 50 per cent, with that 50 per cent being a single area of space. A restriction to a single storey in most cases, with exceptions only being considered for large comprehensive developments. An outright ban on basement developments under, or in the gardens, of listed buildings or where basements already exist, though again exceptions might be considered on very large sites. The compulsory installation of pumps to prevent flooding from sewers. The move follows a study by the leading engineering consultancy, Alan Baxter and Associates, into the impact of multiple basement developments on the built and natural environment in Kensington and Chelsea. Commenting on the new draft policies inspired by that report, Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, Cllr Tim Ahern, said: "We do not argue for a ban on basement development, only for a better balance between them and the amenity of our other residents. If the cumulative impact of scores of schemes that take months and years to complete is to damage the wider quality of life in our borough I believe we have a right to take that into account. "Just as important, we want to preserve our garden space in its green, leafy and flowering form. In particular we want trees to grow and thrive and they simply can't do that in thin soil that's principal purpose is to cover over a dwelling space. "We also need to retain our soak away areas and for that you need space wide enough and deep enough. Basements that are storeys deep do not help. "Finally, Kensington and Chelsea is an important heritage area with thousands of listed buildings. Increasingly it's clear that major basement developments can be structurally very challenging. Because of that increased risk to the fabric of our precious heritage assets we believe we should adopt the precautionary principle and reduce the risk by limiting the scale of some of the developments we have been seeing here. "But now it's time for the public and the professionals to have their say. We will listen carefully and our proposals will be examined by an Independent Inspector later in the year, after which we will take a final decision."

5 ways to contact Greg Hands M.P.:

By Phone: By email: By post: In person: 020 7219 5448 Greg Hands M.P. House of Commons London SW1A 0AA Click here for details of how to book an appointment at Greg Hands M.P.s weekly surgery

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Greg Hands M.P. a strong voice for Chelsea & Fulham

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