Sunday, 28 March 2010

On the side of pensioners

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we would protect pensioners in Halton, following some unprincipled scare-mongering by the Labour Party (

I have included below some further details about our support for pensioners, and David Cameron's pensioners pledge.

We want to give people more choice over how they deal with their pension savings, more control over their income in retirement and more peace of mind in retirement:
• We will end the effective obligation to buy an annuity at 75;
• We will introduce a new home protection scheme to help stop people having to sell their homes to pay for residential care. Under this new voluntary scheme, people reaching retirement will have the option to pay a one-off joining fee (that we estimate will be around £8,000) in return for a guarantee that absolutely all fees for permanent residential care would be waived – for life.
• We will work with local councils to freeze council tax for two years and scrap Labour’s plans for an intrusive council tax revaluation of your home; and
• We will remove the stigma attached to council tax benefit by re-naming it council tax rebate.

As the election approaches, I expect Labour will continue to spread lies about my Party's policies, so let me make this absolutely clear:
• We will protect Disability Living Allowance for the over 65s and Attendance Allowance for pensioners;
• We will keep the winter fuel allowance;
• We will keep free TV licences for pensioners;
• We won’t cut the state pension;
• We won’t take away free bus passes for pensioners; and
• We will protect and respect the rights and security of social housing rents.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thanks to Halton helpers!

After another Saturday of campaigning in Halton, I wanted to say a big "online" thanks to everyone who has given up so much time over the last 16 months to help out; especially given some of the recent weather we have endured!

Just 40 more days to go........

Mersey Gateway- we must keep up the pressure

Those of us who have spent time sat in traffic either side of the current Runcorn Bridge (SJB) over the last two weekends do not need to be convinced about the need for the Mersey Gateway to get the go-ahead. It would appear that the decision to proceed will now be made after the General Election. I will continue to work with people from all political parties, and all organisations involved, to ensure they understand how much we need a green light for this vital project.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Budget bombshell; Halton hit hard

30 million people, including thousands all over Halton, were hit hard yesterday by Gordon Brown’s new stealth tax.

Labour has been caught once again hiding a stealth tax in the small print of the Budget. This time it is a tax rise thanks to personal allowances being frozen. It was the single biggest tax rise in the Budget and yet the Chancellor did not mention it. Once again, this Labour government is taking the country for fools.

Not only were 30 million people hit by this stealth tax rise, but the Budget failed to set out a credible plan to deal with the deficit (we are now borrowing more than at any time in our modern history- for every four pounds the Government spends, one pound has to be borrowed). Our debt interest is more than we spend on the entire school system!

The choice will be clear on election day. Five more years of Gordon Brown, with more of the same. Or David Cameron and the Conservatives who offer Halton and the country the change it desperately needs.

Three positive reasons to vote for Ben Jones; my message to the people of Halton

Working for you
I will make the people of Widnes, Runcorn and Hale Village my number one priority. I will be a different type of MP; I will give you a strong voice in Westminster.

Committed to you
I have strong Halton roots, living most of my life locally. I have been working for you since my selection in November 2008, including giving 100% support to the Mersey Gateway project.

Working with you
I believe passionately that Halton and Britain needs change. We need a fresh start and a new direction. Together, your vote and my hard work, can deliver change for our great country.

I will be taking this message to the people of Halton between now and election day.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The unions strike again

Labour's union paymasters at Unite are determined to inflict maximum travel misery on thousands of families. It is disgraceful that they have gone ahead with this unnecessary strike at British Airways which is hurting people all over Britain, including in Halton.

The Prime Minister should do all he can to urge Unite– who are major funders of his general election campaign (they contribute around 25% of Labour's funding)– to call off the strike. If not, he should stop taking their money.

We also face the prospect of strikes on our railways as another one of Labour's union paymasters, this time the RMT, threaten to bring our railways to a standstill. As someone who uses the railways every week, including this weekend to and from Runcorn, I know the impact of this sort of unnecessary action. I hope we as we enter the final weeks before the election, we are not also entering into a Spring of discontent.

The choice at this election

The country has a choice at this election; five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired Government making things worse, or David Cameron and the Conservatives with the energy, leadership and values to get the country moving.
If you vote for change at this election, we promise to;

1. Act now on debt to get the economy moving. Deal with the deficit more quickly than Labour so that mortgage rates stay lower for longer with the Conservatives.

2. Get Britain working by boosting enterprise. Cut corporation tax rates, abolish taxes on the first ten jobs created by new businesses, promote green jobs, and get people off welfare and into work.

3. Make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe. Freeze council tax and raise the basic state pension, recognise marriage in the tax system and back couples in the benefits system, support young families with extra health visitors, and fight back against crime.

4. Back the NHS. Increase spending on health every year, and make the NHS work for patients not managers.

5. Raise standards in schools. Give teachers the power to restore discipline, and create new smaller schools.

6. Change politics. Reduce the number of MPs, cut Whitehall and quangos by a third, and let taxpayers see where their money is being spent.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Halton Council budget; Conservatives keep our word

I have sent the following letter to the local press;

In January, Halton Conservatives made our “pledges for change” to offer local people a real choice in this year’s elections. One of our pledges was to “cut the cost of politics in Halton”.

At the recent Council meeting to agree the Budget, voters got to see the Conservatives keeping our word.

Whilst the Labour Party was proposing significant savings in the social care budget, we were calling for budget savings to be made by changing the way councillors are paid. We made a proposal that would have saved nearly £100,000 a year by halving payments to councillors. We believe that councillors should show leadership when looking for savings in the budget and not let others feel the pain of cuts. We wanted to cut the cost of politics in Halton but our proposal was rejected by Labour councillors, thirty of whom benefit from the payments.

We need to ensure that despite the tough economic times we face, we do not punish the vulnerable in the search for savings in budgets. I am proud that my Conservative Party colleagues on Halton Council are standing up for the most vulnerable in our community and sticking to our promises. We have shown that our “pledges for change” would make a real difference in Halton. That is why we need more Conservative councillors elected in May. We want to give Halton and the country the change it desperately needs. You can help by voting Conservative in May.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Friday, 12 March 2010

Halton budget; standing up for the vulnerable in our community

As part of this year's budget settlement, Halton council have made cuts to the social care budget of £220,000. We believe that savings in other areas (like Councillor's allowances) should have been made instead.

We need to ensure that despite the tough economic times we face, we do not punish the elderly, disabled, and the vulnerable in the search for savings. I am proud that my Conservative Party colleagues on Halton Council are standing up for the most vulnerable in our community.

Halton Conservatives keep our word- we want to cut the cost of politics in Halton

Councillor Peter Murray and my Conservative colleagues on Halton Council have been showing what we mean by our pledge to "cut the cost of politics in Halton" by calling for a freeze on councillor allowances.

We pushed for rises in councillors’ allowances to be shelved for the next three years, instead of current plans to suspend rises only if the Labour-controlled council's staff pay does not increase.

The people of Halton face a real choice on Election Day. We want to cut the cost of politics in Halton. Others clearly do not.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Liverpool Daily Post; Ben Jones profile

The following profile is on the Liverpool Daily Post website;

Cheshire: Halton: Conservative candidate Ben Jones

BEN Jones currently works for a medical regulator and prior to that worked in management consultancy with Accenture and KPMG.
He was born in Liverpool in 1978 and lived in Rainhill and St Helens. He went to local state primary and secondary schools and was the first member of his family to go to University. He studied Politics at the University of Liverpool.
He now lives in London with his wife and spends time in the North West working, campaigning, and visiting family and friends. He has strong links to the area having grown up nearby and having family living in the neighbouring constituencies.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Michael Foot

I was very sad to hear the news of the passing of the former Labour leader, Michael Foot, earlier this week.

Mr Foot was a huge figure in the history of the Labour movement and somebody who made an outstanding contribution to Parliament and public life. Like Jack Straw (who spoke in the House of Commons on the day his death was announced), I am a huge fan of Mr Foot’s famous speech in the House of Commons when telling the tale (brilliantly) of the magician and the gold watch. I came across this speech many years ago when first getting involved in politics and it, and many other speeches he gave, remain a source of great pleasure and inspiration.