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Newbury MP and former Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon, was named as IWA’s Parliamentarian of the Year 2015 at a function held at the House of Commons on Tuesday 3rd November.

The MP who was Minister during the transfer of more than half the country's navigations from British Waterways to Canal & River Trust, has retained a strong interest in the inland waterways and was recently elected as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways. He is also Chairman of the UK Water Partnership.

Presenting the award, IWA National Chairman Les Etheridge, said, ‘The support our inland waterways get from so many politicians always makes this a difficult decision and this year has been no different. Transferring inland waterways from government to charity control with an appropriate funding package was a brave and wise decision which recognised what volunteers bring to the waterways, and it is this as well as Richard’s continuing involvement in the waterways that make him this year’s IWA Parliamentarian of the Year.’

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With the retirement of Gordon Lundie as Leader of West Berkshire Council, the ruling Conservative Group has elected Councillor Roger Croft to replace him.  On hearing the news Newbury MP, Richard Benyon said,

“I warmly congratulate Roger on his election to be Leader. He has the vision to see what is needed in the years ahead and the determination to carry forward the manifesto commitments on which the Conservatives were elected. On a personal level I find Roger really easy to work with and am looking forward to working with him and his team in the coming years”

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures that show 20 people in the Newbury constituency have been helped off benefits and supported to start their own business, thanks to the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance scheme.

The allowance, which supports people on out of work benefits to start their own business, has helped more than 73,000 people nationwide since its introduction in April 2011.

Richard said: “I want everyone in Britain to benefit from the opportunities being created by our growing economy. Supporting small businesses is an important part of backing working people. This scheme rewards vision and hard graft. I congratulate all those who have benefited in the Newbury constituency”.

He continued: “More broadly, corporation tax has been lowered to 20 per cent and will reach 18 per cent by 2020, red tape continues to be cut and the Employment Allowance, which reduces employers’ National Insurance bills and makes it cheaper to take on staff, will also increase to £3000 next year. These are all bold measures designed to ensure Britain keeps growing”.


·         The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) helps people on out of work benefits start their own business. The scheme, launched in April 2011, aims to help unemployed people claiming out of work benefits who wish to start up their own business. Participants in the NEA work with a business mentor to develop their business idea. Once they have started trading and left benefits, they receive a weekly allowance worth a total of £1,274 over 26 weeks to help them get their business going (DWP, New Enterprise Allowance: April 2011 to June 2015, 23 September 2015, link).

·         More than 73,000 people have started a business under the scheme since it was introduced. Over the past year nearly 1,500 businesses a month have been started by people moving off benefits and becoming their own boss

o    17,140 businesses started by people aged 50 and over

o    5,440 businesses started by people under 25

o    14,530 businesses started by people with a disability

(DWP, New Enterprise Allowance: April 2011 to June 2015, 23 September 2015, link).

·         Businesses have created almost 2.5 million new jobs since Labour were in power. The private sector has created over five jobs for every one job lost in the public sector since 2010(ONS, MFZ2, 16 September 2015, link).

·         And 703,100 fewer people are claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit-not in work (ONS, Regional Labour Market, 16 September 2015, link; nomis, accessed 16 September 2015, link; DWP, Universal Credit: 29 Apr 2013 to 3 September 2015, 16 September 2015, link).

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures which show that the Government’s flagship ‘Help to Buy’ policy has aided 225 people in buying their own home in the Newbury constituency.

Help to Buy was introduced by the Conservatives to help working people achieve the aspiration of buying their own home. Nationally, the scheme has now enabled 120,000 families to realise this dream, less than three years since its launch.

Richard said: “This policy has clearly been a huge success in the Newbury constituency. I am even more pleased that, nationally, 80 per cent of those helped are first-time buyers”.

He continued: “As of 1 December, the Help to Buy ISA will start supporting those who are working hard to save up for a deposit for their first home. This is a further incentive from Government to help the next generation of home owners”.


·         Help to Buy has helped nearly 120,000 families buy their own home. More than118,000 people have been helped to buy a home through the three parts of Help to Buy: the Equity Loan, Mortgage Guarantee and New Buy schemes (HM Treasury press release, 9 September 2015, link).

·         Most of the people benefitting are first-time buyers.80 per cent of sales have been to first-time buyers, helping to create a new generation of homeowners (Ibid.).

·         Help to Buy is supporting responsible lending.The average price of a house purchased through Help to Buy is £186,000 - well below the UK average price of £277,000. In addition, 95 per cent of sales have been outside of London, with the highest number of homes bought through the mortgage guarantee scheme in the North West (Ibid.).

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, is to meet Shailesh Vara, Minister for Courts and Legal Aid next week, following the start of a consultation period which proposes the closure of West Berkshire (Newbury) Magistrates’ Court.

Richard, who successfully campaigned against potential closure in 2010, has already made representations to the consultation and has requested this meeting to enforce the case for local justice.

Richard said: “I am grateful to the minister for granting me a meeting. I maintain that our court has been purposely run down by the Courts Service with this very aim in mind. I am deeply troubled that the concept of local justice is being lost”.

He continued: “It is vital that the Ministry of Justice is made aware of the detrimental impact this potential closure will have on our local community and I would urge all interested parties to make their feelings known to this consultation, which is to close on 8th October”.

Richard’s forthcoming meeting follows discussions with the Law Society earlier this week.


·         Richard’s consultation response and correspondence with the Ministry of Justice are available on his website:

·         The consultation can be accessed here:

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Richard Benyon was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Newbury on 7 May 2015, with an increased majority of 26,368. Richard won 61 per cent of the vote share.



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