Working for the future of Bedford & Kempston

Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017. 

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Dido Harding, CEO of Talk Talk Group and former John Lewis CEO, Andy Street headline the upcoming Bedford Community Business School aimed at giving advice and encouragement to anyone who runs, or wants to start, their own small business.

The Business School, which is free of charge, is being organised by Richard over five Thursday evenings in January and February hosted at Kings House, Ampthill Road, Bedford between 6-8pm, starting on the 19th January 2017.

The evenings are open to anyone who is studying business, running a business or thinking of running a business. There is the added incentive that if people register and attend all five sessions they will be entered into a ballot to win an hour of free mentoring with one of the national speakers. Each session will also include speakers from the business community in Bedford and Kempston and an opportunity to network.

Speakers include:-
• Dido Harding, CEO of Talk Talk Group on Winning Big
• Andy Street, Former Managing Director of John Lewis plc on Selling Successfully
• Margot James MP, Business Minister on Managing People
• Brendan Harris, Former CEO Coca Cola Italy and Coca Cola Africa on Presenting Effectively
• Samuel Kasumu, Founder of Engage Fundraising on Getting Funded

Commenting on the launch of the Business School, Richard said: “This is an exciting opportunity for people who want advice on running their business, or who are thinking of running a business or studying business. The advice will be provided by national business leaders, as well as successful local business people.”

Simon Holley of Kings Arms said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Richard Fuller to host these five leadership evenings at King’s House. It’s always been our dream to see more businesses starting across Bedfordshire and the opportunity to have such high calibre speakers equipping the potential leaders of the future is a real privilege.”

Please register to attend online.

Richard Fuller today welcomed the announcement by Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport to enable fast track completion of the rail link from Oxford to Cambridge via Bedford and Milton Keynes.

In his statement to the House of Commons, Mr Grayling said, “I want to bring new skills into the challenge of upgrading our railways. I will begin by looking at the reopening of the link from Oxford to Cambridge, to support a range of opportunities including housing, science, technology and innovation. I am going to establish East West Rail as a new and separate organisation, to accelerate the permissions needed to reopen the route, and to secure private sector involvement to design, build and operate the route as an integrated organisation. This East West Rail organisation will be established early in the New Year and chaired by the former Chief Executive of Chiltern Rail, Rob Brighouse.”

Responding to the announcement, Richard said, “Completing this important rail link, especially from Bedford to Cambridge, was at serious risk of getting stuck in an over-committed Network Rail, leading to delays and potentially cancellation if government changed investment priorities in the future. I will continue to press the Secretary of State to ensure that his plans will deliver this rail line ahead of time, on budget and to the highest safety standards.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement this week allocated £100m to accelerate the building of the Western Section of the East West Rail Project, the Bedford–Oxford line, and a further £10m was allocated to continue development work to identify a preferred route for the line to extend east of Bedford, via Sandy, to Cambridge. He also gave a commitment to deliver the new dualled Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, via Bedford.

After listening to the announcement in the House of Commons, Richard said: “I am delighted that the Government is investing in new road and rail links for Bedford. This investment will unlock economic growth in and around our town by further improving connectivity and our attractiveness for businesses to invest. This will bring more, local jobs making Bedford an even better place to live and work.”

In the Autumn Statement, Mr Hammond said: “This project can be more than just a transport link. It can become a transformational tech-corridor, drawing on the world-class research strengths of our two best-known universities.”

Local MP, Richard Fuller is urging qualifying married couples and civil partners in his constituency to make the most of tax savings from the Marriage Allowance.

The Marriage Allowance is a Government initiative launched in April to recognise the importance of marriage in the tax system.

Richard explained:
“Individuals who qualify can transfer 10 per cent of their personal allowance to their spouse saving up to £220 for this year. There is a simple online application for Marriage Allowance. Just visit this website or call HMRC on 0300 200 3300.”

The criteria for Marriage Allowance is:

  • You are married or in a civil partnership
  • You don’t earn or you don’t pay tax on your income (if you currently earn less than £11,000 a year).
  • Your partner does not earn more than £43,000 a year.

Treasury Minister, Jane Ellison added:
“HMRC is raising awareness of the savings to couples that the Marriage Allowance offers. This can reduce a partner’s income tax bill by up to £220 this year, or £432 if couples who were also eligible in 2015-16 backdate their claim. You can still apply if you or your partner is currently receiving a pension.”

Richard Fuller is urging local people to get their flu jab and find out more about how they can stay well this winter.

Richard said, “It’s really important that if you are a pensioner, or suffer from a long term condition, or have children between 2 and 7 that you find out about to stay well this winter. And if you have older relatives or elderly neighbours, remember to keep an eye out for them too.”

The Stay Well This Winter campaign being run by Public Health England and NHS England aims to raise awareness of the vulnerability of the elderly and those with long-term health conditions at winter among family, friends and carers. Advice includes:

  • If you suffer from a long term health condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis; diabetes; heart or kidney disease; are aged 65 or over; or are pregnant, get the free flu vaccine now
  • If you’re a parent of a child aged 2 -7, ensure your child is vaccinated against flu. Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can get the vaccination from their GP. Parents of children in school years 1, 2 and 3 are asked to give permission for their child to receive the free nasal spray vaccination at school
  • Seek immediate advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of winter illnesses, before it gets too serious
  • Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can
  • Keep an eye out for elderly relatives and neighbours

For further advice about how you and your family can stay well this winter, please visit the website.

Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, attended the Second Reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill in Parliament today, which was passed by the House of Commons with Government support. The Bill will ensure that local authorities provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who are protected under existing legislation. It will also legally require local authorities to introduce measures to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Richard backed the Bill to reduce homelessness, continuing his work with national and local homeless charities such as the King’s Arms Project in Bedford.

Speaking from the House for Commons, Richard said: “This Bill aims to prevent people from losing their homes through early intervention and cross agency support and helps those who are not currently considered a priority under current legislation. At the moment, if you don’t have dependent children or you can’t prove that you are particularly vulnerable, your local authority has no legal obligation to offer you help.”

The Bill places a prevention duty on local authorities to help anyone who is eligible and at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation, 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness regardless of their priority need status. It also creates a new duty for councils to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation. The Bill will also ensure that other local services refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams.

The passing of the Bill, proposed by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, follows a Government commitment to provide a £40 million fund to prevent homelessness and help those on the streets with the most complex needs.

Richard has welcomed an improved compensation scheme for passengers if their train is more than 15 minutes late.

This week, the Government announced that ‘Delay Repay 15’ will be introduced within months on Govia Thameslink services, including Southern services, before extending to all other lines. Passengers will soon be able to claim compensation for delays of over 15 minutes rather than the current threshold of 30 minutes.

In 2013, Richard raised the idea of making train operating companies compensate passengers for delays of 15 minutes or more in Parliament with the then Transport Secretary. He said: “I am glad the Government has listened. This is good news for rail passengers and provides a strong incentive for train operators to deliver a reliable service.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We recognise that, above all else, passengers want a reliable train service, but when things do go wrong it is vital that they are compensated fairly. ‘Delay Repay 15’ is a major improvement for passengers and we are working with train companies to make it as easy as possible for passengers to claim their rightful compensation.”

Currently, passengers are entitled to 50% of their fare if their train is delayed by 30-59 minutes, 100% if it is delayed by over an hour, and 100% of the total cost if it is delayed for over two hours. These thresholds will stay in place but passengers will now also be able to claim 25% of the cost of the single fare for delays of between 15 and 29 minutes.

Richard Fuller MP has welcomed government plans to stop requiring people with the most severe, lifelong conditions to be re-assessed for out-of-work benefits.

On Thursday, Richard spoke at FLAG Bedford – a social group for disabled adults in the Bedford area – and called for changes to be made to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) reassessments and two days later, the government announced its change in policy.

Over the weekend, the government announced that it will work with medical professionals, its health assessment provider and others to develop criteria to stop re-assessments for people with the most severe health conditions. People with illnesses such as severe Huntingdon’s, severe autism or a congenital heart condition will be among those who might qualify to continue to receive ESA automatically.

The Government went further by saying that it would also explore how it might simplify and improve the assessment process to support people with health conditions and disabilities.

Richard commented: “This is a very welcome announcement. In my time as an MP, I have come across chronically ill constituents with conditions that will not improve and for whom re-assessment has caused unnecessary anxiety and stress. I am very glad that Theresa May is setting a new direction.”