You should always be better off by going out to work
I WOULD like to begin my first Derby Telegraph column of 2013 by wishing everyone a very happy new year.
I'm looking forward to the new challenges that 2013 will bring as well as visiting businesses, charities and constituents throughout Erewash.
I recently had the honour of joining the director of Derwent Analytics, Ian Hopkinson, to officially launch one of Erewash's newest businesses, Harlequin BPI.
Harlequin, the new pharmaceutical arm of the Ilkeston-based firm, will manufacture and supply a range of eye drops, medical lens solutions, nasal sprays, ear drops and vapour rubs for pharmaceutical chains and supermarkets to brand as their own.
Derwent has invested heavily in new equipment and facilities, as well as employing six new members of staff, including four who were recruited during the Erewash Jobs Fair that I hosted last September.
I would like to wish Ian and his team every success for the future.
January's hot topic of debate in Westminster has been about the Welfare Up-rating Bill. Our welfare system should be something to be proud of. It is there to act as a safety net for those who have fallen on hard times, and I understand that, for the majority of people, claiming benefits is a last resort.
However, under the last Labour Government, Britain's welfare bill was allowed to grow out of control, rising by an astonishing 60% even before the recession.
Over the past five years, those on out-of-work benefits have seen their incomes rise twice as fast as those in work, at a rate of 20% compared to only a 10% rise in average earnings.
I believe this is unacceptable and is why I am clear that never again should someone be able to claim more in benefits than the average family earns by going out to work each day.
I was deeply saddened to hear that Capt Pete Barnes, the pilot who died in Wednesday's helicopter crash in London, also flew with the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance Service. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my deepest sympathies to Capt Barnes' family and friends.
Next month, I am hosting an event in Parliament to celebrate the fantastic work of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance and during that celebration I hope that we will be able to mark the valuable contribution that Capt Barnes has made.
I was pleased to be able to join volunteers from the Long Eaton-based homeless charity The Canaan Trust whilst collecting at Tesco in Long Eaton just before Christmas. I know that the work of The Canaan Trust is invaluable and would like to personally thank everyone who made a donation.
As ever, if you would like to arrange an appointment at one of my weekly surgeries, please contact me at 73 Derby Road, Long Eaton, NG10 1LU, call 0115 9722419 or e-mail me at jessica. email@example.com.