01 SEP 2014

CAROLINE SPEAKS OUT ON PIP APPLICATION DELAYS

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today raised her concerns about the delays to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application reviews during questions to the Department for Work and Pensions.

PIP helps with some of the extra costs faced by those living with disability or long-term ill health.

Caroline asked:

"A number of my constituents have experienced lengthy delays while waiting for a decision on a review for their PIP application, at a time of great uncertainty and stress for all concerned. In addition to the efforts already outlined by the Minister, could he outline what steps are planned to speed up the application review and appeal process?"

Responding on behalf of the Government, Minister of State for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP said:

"As well as making sure that the assessment can take place faster, we are already making sure that as those cases move through the system, the DWP decision makers will be able to cope with that increased number of cases so that once we have got the assessment process sorted out, those decisions will be made in a timely way that helps hers and my constituents in the future."

Speaking outside the chamber, Caroline said:

"When people are being forced to live on a reduced income it is crucial that waiting times are as short as possible, that is why I am pleased that the Minister has expressed his commitment to streamlining the entire PIP application process, including the procedures for reviewing a decision that an individual is unhappy with."


06 AUG 2014

CAROLINE PRAISES EFFECT OF EMPLOYMENT ALLOWANCE

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed new figures showing that 109,000 businesses in the South East are already benefitting from the Employment Allowance.

The Employment Allowance was introduced in April and reduces the cost to businesses of employing people. It takes up to £2,000 off the National Insurance bill of every employer and is open to businesses, charities and community amateur sports clubs.

Speaking in support of the tax cut, Caroline said:

"Cutting the tax on jobs is a fantastic way to back small businesses and create more employment opportunities. Local businesses will find it easier to take on new staff thus giving more people the stability of a regular pay packet and peace of mind for the future.

Thanks to this Government's policies, 1.8 million people have entered employment since 2010; however, there is always more to be done which is why I am pleased that this Government is committed to carrying out its long-term economic plan."

The Employment Allowance means a business could now hire someone on £22,400 a year, or four people working full-time on the minimum wage, without paying any employer national insurance at all. In total up to 1.25 million employers will benefit from the allowance, with 450,000 taken out of paying the tax on jobs altogether.


04 AUG 2014

CAROLINE APPLAUDS HELP TO BUY SUCCESS

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed new figures showing that the Government's Help to Buy scheme is helping families to buy their own home.

In Gosport, 55 families have been helped on to the property ladder by the scheme which gives people access to an affordable mortgage thus enabling them to buy their own home.

Caroline said:

"It is great to hear that so many local families have been able to achieve their dreams of owning a home thanks to the Government's Help to Buy scheme. Getting a foot on the property ladder can be a daunting prospect, particularly in the aftermath of an economic recession.

I am pleased that more people in Gosport will now experience the security and independence that home ownership brings."

Across the UK nearly 40,000 people have been able to buy their own home thanks to Help to Buy; 80 per cent of those helped have been first-time buyers.

Help to Buy is also giving builders the confidence to build, with the Equity Loan part of the scheme directly supporting demand for new-build homes. Since the scheme was launched, private sector housebuilding has increased by 34 per cent with the construction sector growing and taking on new workers at the fastest rate for 17 years.


01 AUG 2014

CAROLINE VISITS GOSPORT SUMMER PASSPORT SCHEME

Local MP Caroline Dinenage yesterday paid a visit to the Gosport Summer Passport Scheme and met young people who are making the most of the activities on offer.

Organised by the Gosport Community Safety Partnership, the event is running for three weeks during the summer holidays and provides a wide range of activities for young people aged 12-17. Caroline saw for herself the diverse opportunities open to participants, from kayaking to hair chalking.

Expressing her support for the initiative, Caroline said:

"Now in its seventh year, the Gosport Summer Passport Scheme just keeps getting bigger and better. The huge variety of activities on offer means that there really is something for everyone and I am delighted that so many young people are taking part in this year's events.

The scheme provides some unique experiences to participants and gives them the chance to think about hobbies that they may like to take up in the future. It is also a great way to get out and about and spend time with friends during the long summer holidays."

The Gosport Summer Passport Scheme will run until the 14th August; for those who haven't pre-registered, participation in activities will cost £2 on the day of the event. You can find more information here: www.safergosport.co.uk/?content=pages&id=passport-scheme.


17 JUL 2014

KARREN BRADY HELPS CAROLINE INSPIRE BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage was today joined by businesswoman, Karren Brady for a business and entrepreneurship workshop at Bay House School.

Students from a number of year groups were tasked with an 'Apprentice' style challenge - formulating an innovative business plan for empty units on Gosport High Street. After a morning of planning, they pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to Caroline, Karren and a panel of local business people. The successful group from Year 8 came up with the idea of opening a joke shop targeted at the younger market and even outlined how they could franchise their business model.

Karren gave an inspirational speech, detailing her rise in the business world and encouraging pupils to take the bull by the horns and realise their dreams. Students also heard from local business woman and record breaking endurance swimmer, Anna Wardley, who urged them to set their goals high.

Speaking after the visit, Caroline said:

"Karren is a fantastic role model for budding entrepreneurs and I am hugely grateful to her for joining us at today's business workshop.

I was extremely impressed by the students who presented their business ideas – pitching in front of such an esteemed panel is always daunting but they did a fantastic job and should be incredibly proud of themselves.

Having spoken to a number of pupils after the event, I know that they were enthused by Karren's passion for business and I hope that hearing from her will propel their aspirations for their own careers."

Karren built up a strong reputation as the managing director of Birmingham City FC and is currently the vice-chairman of West Ham United. She also works as an advisor to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice. She was visiting Gosport as part of her role as the Conservative Party's Small Business Ambassador. As Small Business Ambassador for the South, Caroline has been working with Karren and a group of MPs to promote the interests of small enterprises across the country which has culminated in the second reading of the Small Business Bill in Parliament this week.

The local business panel was made up of Anna Wardley, Gary Jeffries, Louise Whitmore and Joanna Murchie.


14 JUL 2014

KARREN BRADY SET TO VISIT GOSPORT

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage will welcome business woman, Karren Brady to her constituency on Thursday when she joins local business owners for an entrepreneurship event at Bay House School.

In collaboration with Bay House, Caroline has organised an entrepreneurship workshop for students with a keen interest in business. In small groups, they will be asked to come up with a business idea before pitching their proposals to a panel made up of Caroline, Karren and local entrepreneurs.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Caroline said:

"It is really exciting to have such a well-known and successful business woman come to Gosport and I am delighted that Karren will be meeting budding entrepreneurs from Bay House School.

Engaging young people with business from an early age is essential to fostering enthusiasm for entrepreneurialism and I am confident that having heard from Karren, Bay House students will be inspired to follow in her footsteps and forge a career in business."

Having built up a strong reputation as the managing director of Birmingham City FC, Karren is currently the vice-chairman of West Ham United and also works as an advisor to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice.

She is visiting Gosport as part of her role as the Conservative Party's Small Business Ambassador. As Small Business Ambassador for the South, Caroline has been working with Karren and a group of MPs to promote the interests of small enterprises across the country.


10 JUL 2014

INQUIRY LAUNCHED INTO DEATHS AT GOSPORT HOSPITAL

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has today welcomed a statement from the Minister of State for Care and Support, announcing a Hillsborough-style inquiry into deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

Following the publication of Professor Richard Baker's report last August, which looked into the unexpected deaths of a number of elderly patients in the 1990s, the Department of Health has held consultation sessions with the families involved, facilitating discussions on how the case should be taken forward.

Today, the Minister responsible, Norman Lamb MP, revealed that he will set up an Independent Panel to review documentary evidence held by a range of organisations. The Panel will be chaired by Bishop James Jones who led the Hillsborough inquiry.

Speaking after the announcement, Caroline said:

"For the families involved, this has been a long and hard journey. I am pleased that the Government has expressed its commitment to addressing their ongoing concerns and finding out what really happened at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

I have always called for openness and transparency – the families deserve nothing less. The inquiry, selected by the families as their preferred course of action, is an important first step in finally bringing closure to this difficult case."

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb MP, said:

"The events at Gosport War Memorial hospital have caused immense distress to the families of the patients who died.

"I was deeply concerned by the findings of the Baker report, and I am confident that the appointment of Bishop James Jones to chair this independent process will help answer the many questions of the families affected by these shocking events."

Further details about the members of the Panel and agreed Terms of Reference will be announced in the autumn.


09 JUL 2014

CAROLINE SPEAKS UP ON PASSPORT DELAYS

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has called on the Government to ensure that greater efficiency is brought to the process of issuing passports during Questions to the Home Office on Monday.

Over recent months, HM Passport Office (HMPO) has seen the highest rate of applications for passports in over 12 years. Despite robust efforts to manage the increased demand, many citizens have faced delays in receiving their passports. Caroline commended the hard work being done by HMPO to ensure that holidaymakers receive their passports in time for the summer season.

She asked:

"It's important that long-term lessons are drawn from the review of operating procedure, will the Minister assure the House that there will be a focus on improving efficiency and ensuring customer service is at the heart of all HMPO activities in the future?"

Responding on behalf of the Government, the Minister for Security and Immigration, James Brokenshire MP, said:

"I think my Honourable Friend makes an important point around the focus on customers, the focus on improving the processes further. I think that there is a real focus that will be given to this once we have managed this period of excessive demand, indeed looking at the forecasting, we are bringing in the Home Office's scientific lead to examine those projections as well as ensuring that where there are changes that can be made to improve performance they will be done."

Speaking outside the Chamber, Caroline said:

"With the summer holidays fast approaching, I am sure that many local people have been concerned by the delays in the issuing of passports and I am pleased that the Government is taking decisive action to help prevent these issues from arising again in the future."


08 JUL 2014

CAROLINE WELCOMES MINISTER TO DAEDALUS

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today welcomed the Minister for Housing, Kris Hopkins MP, to her constituency for a visit to the Daedalus Enterprise Zone.

Caroline and the Minister were joined by representatives from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and other key stakeholders for a tour of the site which took in the brand new CEMAST Skills Centre. The group then convened for a meeting to discuss the future of the Enterprise Zone, with particular reference to plans for the Waterfront area.

Whilst at the Enterprise Zone, the Minister announced confirmation of a £7 million investment which will be used to create a new spine road on the site, linking the CEMAST Skills Centre to the Waterfront area, facilitating the development of a vibrant new complex of commercial and leisure businesses. The funding package was initially announced by the Government in January, subject to an approved business case, following a successful bid by the Solent LEP.

Speaking after the Minister's visit, Caroline said:

"It was great to welcome Kris Hopkins to the Daedalus Enterprise Zone, particularly as he brought with him yet more good news for our area. The confirmation of further funding proves that Ministers are strongly backing the Solent region for success.

What with the new CEMAST Skills Centre nearing completion, the Innovation Centre going ahead and numerous other projects currently underway at Daedalus, the extended funding will really serve to propel the site's development, ensuring that it meets the potential it has to boost our local economy, create jobs and generate new skills."

Today's visit follows on from yesterday's announcement that the Solent LEP has been successful in its bid for government funding through the Local Growth Deal and will receive a total of £124 million to deliver the Solent Strategic Economic Plan.


07 JUL 2014

STUBBINGTON BYPASS GETS THE GREEN LIGHT

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has this morning welcomed news from the Government that the long-awaited Stubbington bypass has finally received the go-ahead.

In response to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership's bid for a funding package to ease congestion in Gosport and Fareham, the Government has agreed to an initial investment of £19.7 million which will be used for preliminary work on the Stubbington bypass. The funding will also go towards improving existing transport connectivity between Gosport and Fareham.

In addition, the Government has agreed to work with the Solent LEP to negotiate a phase of co-investment to support road improvements on the Gosport peninsula, namely the construction of the Stubbington bypass.

Speaking about the announcement, Caroline said:

"For decades, the Gosport peninsula has been in desperate need of an additional access road so today's announcement of the first tranche of money to build a new access road is landmark news. Not only would this new road cut travelling times for long suffering commuters, it would also make our area more attractive to investors and help to create jobs locally.

Having worked hard to secure this new road for the past four years, I am delighted that the ministerial visits and numerous meetings have paid off and that the Government has recognised our very real need for a decent access road to Gosport."

Since becoming elected, Caroline has been firmly committed to tackling her constituency's road congestion problems. Last year, she welcomed the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, and former Transport Minister, Norman Baker MP, to the area and was pivotal in securing the Daedalus Enterprise Zone which has helped to secure an £8.5 million package for the work on Newgate Lane which began in January.


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