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Leader/Times Column 2nd December 2016

Congratulations to Councillor Pauline McCormick on winning the closely fought Pendle Council by-election in the Reedley Ward last week. Pauline has given decades of public service to Pendle and it was great to see her elected to serve once more. 

Also last week, the Chancellor announced during the Autumn Statement that the National Living Wage will rise by 4% next year to £7.50 an hour. The National Living Wage was introduced in April, replacing the National Minimum Wage for most workers and boosting pay for those on the lowest income. This announcement is effectively a £500 per year pay rise for people in fulltime work, on the lowest salary.

Fears that introducing the National Living Wage would affect employment have proven inaccurate so far, with the number of people in work currently at a record high level.  Whilst the National Living Wage is mandatory for businesses, there is also a higher, voluntary Living Wage calculated by the Living Wage Foundation that businesses can sign up to. Last year First Tunnels Polytunnels Ltd become the first organisation in Pendle to become an accredited Living Wage employer and I’m keen to encourage others to follow suit.  I’m currently in the process of writing to a number of businesses across Pendle to encourage them to do so as part of the ‘We Buy Living Wage’ campaign.

Also announced in the Autumn Statement was a further increase of the income tax personal allowance, the amount you can earn before paying any tax, to £11,500 up from only £6,475 in 2010.  Cutting the amount of tax taken out of paycheques is one of the best ways to support families. The latest increase will see 31 million people paying less income tax and around 1.3 million people being taken out of income tax all together. This is all great news for helping balance the household budget.

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