The Local Economy & Work



There are a lot of empty brown-field sites in and around Dartford, and nothing happening with them -- land that could be used to bring much needed affordable housing and companies back to Dartford.

That's why a Labour government would give councils like Dartford the power to tell developers ''use it or lose it'' and start building, with the right to buy back the land if they don't.

With the river, high speed rail-link and motorway networks we have the right infrastructure to encourage companies to move their headquarters or offices to Dartford.

Along the Thames, other boroughs are enjoying considerable success in getting companies to move into former derelict spaces. With Dartford’s infrastructure, we could easily be attracting companies to move here.

Dartford could and should be an attractive place for businesses to relocate to.


I care about the 900,000 young people in this country who don’t have a job, the right skills or hope. That’s why I’m standing as a Labour candidate. And that’s why a Labour government would introduce its compulsory jobs guarantee for young people who’ve been out of work for more than a year – guaranteeing them a job at the minimum wage.

But it’s not just the young who find themselves struggling to find a job. So a Labour government would guarantee every adult who has been unemployed for 2 years a work placement.

These schemes would be paid for by taxing bankers’ bonuses and making changes to the way the pensions of top earners are taxed.

Labour would end the abuse of zero hour contracts.

It would introduce a lower 10p starting rate of tax to help make work pay 

It would stop British workers being undercut by overseas labour by forcing companies to pay the legal minimum wage.

And a Labour government would ban recruitment agencies from only using foreign workers.

The next Labour government would also expand the apprenticeship system. A good 2-3 year apprenticeship should offer people proper training skills and prospects. Many other countries have successful apprenticeship systems – my wife did a 3-year apprenticeship in Germany, where she grew up.

Ideally, I want to see every teenager who wants to, have the opportunity of doing an apprenticeship as an alternative to university. This could be achieved through government, companies and our schools working together. It would mean our future generations have the skills needed in this country.

As the MP for Dartford, I would support moves to achieve this.

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Increasing numbers of people in the Dartford area are struggling with debt and are only just able to meet their living costs, according to new figures released by StepChange, a Debt Charity. The figures are released as part of the charity’s Debt Awareness Week. 

During 2014, the charity’s helpline was contacted by 1476 people from the Dartford postcode area. Those contacting the charity’s helpline on average owed £12,970 in unsecured debt such as credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts and they only had £36 left each month after paying their debts and household bills.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity said:

“More and more families in the Dartford area are falling into debt and struggling to make ends meet. For those living on the edge of their financial means, taking control of the situation can seem a daunting, if not impossible, prospect, but taking positive steps towards tackling debt is crucial to getting back on your feet. We urge those who are worried about their debt problems to seek free confidential advice as soon as possible."

Simon Thomson, Parliamentary Labour Candidate for Dartford said:

“StepChange provide vital support for people in Dartford struggling with debt. This a problem that has got worse in the last four years and shows that too often the economy is just not working for local people.”

“Working people are £1600 worse off under the Conservatives and these figures highlight what many people have told me on the doorstep - far too often it’s still a struggle to make end meet. Dartford needs a pay rise and real help with the cost of living. That’s why a Labour government would deliver a fairer economy by raising the minimum wage to £8 an hour, freeze energy bills until 2017 and create more jobs, including a jobs guarantee for young people out of work."


Notes for Editors:
Figures from StepChange Debt Charity, based on helpline calls in 2014.
Simon Thomson is the Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Dartford. He can be contacted for further comment on 07941 679353

Fri 06 February, 2015

Debt On The Rise In Dartford

Increasing numbers of people in the Dartford area are struggling with debt and are only just able to meet their living costs, according to new figures released by StepChange, a Debt Charity. The figures are released as part of the... Read more

The Conservative MP for Dartford has failed to support local publicans in their fight for survival against the predatory practices of large pub owning companies.

Last week Gareth Johnson voted against a new clause to the Small Business Bill which had cross party support, and which offered new protections for small publicans against the predatory practices of the large pub owning companies (known as pubcos).

Many pub companies force their licencees to buy limited products at inflated prices, making it more difficult for publicans to make a living.  Labour has been campaigning alongside a broad coalition of groups in the industry – including the Federation of Small Businesses,  CAMRA and trades unions to call for greater protection for local pubs and put a stop to unfair treatment and restrictive practices by pubcos.

The government’s provisions to regulate pubcos in the Small Business Bill, were debated in Parliament last week, but fell some way short of Labour’s plans and campaigners’ demands. Labour therefore supported a cross-party clause which would strengthen the proposed legislation and offered a better deal for small pubs.

The amendment, which was passed by MPs, would give pubco licensees the right to choose between a tied agreement or a rent only agreement, allowing them to buy beer on the open market.

But despite several of his Tory colleagues defying their whip to vote for this new clause, Gareth Johnson voted against the clause.

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Dartford, Simon Thomson said “we know many publicans are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living. Several pubs have shut locally in the last few years, including the Fox and Hounds in Darenth, The Morning Star in Swanscombe and The Horse and Groom in Wilmington. And other publicans are struggling to keep going.”

Simon Thomson added, “27 pubs close every week and more than half of all landlords, who are tied to a large pubco earn less than £10,000 a year.  But Gareth Johnson decided to support the big pub companies instead.  The government should adopt this amendment to the bill as soon as possible.”

Toby Perkins, Labour’s Shadow Pubs Minister said: “Labour has led calls for a proper statutory code with teeth on pub companies, giving tenants the protection they need and putting an end to the unfair treatment they’ve received from large pub companies. Our plans have won support from a broad coalition of campaigners including CAMRA, the Federation of Small Business, trade unions and the cross-party BIS Select Committee.

“Over the past three years ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming every step of the way on this issue, and now they have been dealt a resounding and humiliating defeat in the House of Commons. Ministers must now act immediately to ensure there is a proper statutory code with a free-of-tie option to protect local pubs, and must not ignore the will of the House of Commons, after their desperate and shambolic attempts to stave off defeat have failed.”


  • New Clause 2 was passed by 284 votes to 269 at 4pm on 18/11/2014 despite the government whipping against it.  It delivers a mandatory free of tie option (also known as the market rent only, or MRO, option) which allows publicans to buy their beer on the open market.  The BIS Select Committee concluded that this was the only way to ensure that landlords would be no worse off than if they were free-of-tie as it would force pubcos to offer tied tenants the best deals.
  • The government’s own response to a consultation on a statutory code, printed in June, concluded that a mandatory free of tie option: “is popular with many tenant groups and might arguably offer the simplest way of ensuring a tied tenant is no worse off than a free of tie tenant” – but for reasons known only to themselves they decided not to pursue this.
  • Under the original Bill, licencees would merely have the right to ask their pub company to show them how much their rent would be under a free of tie scheme.  This was problematic as all the information would be held by the pubcos, all the calculations crunched by their accountants and all the final estimates would be made by them – and then even if they revealed that the landlord would be better of free-of-tie they would have had no legal right to demand this option.


Simon Thomson is Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Dartford

He can be contacted via:

07941 679353

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