Justin’s Weekly Swindon Adver Article – 23rd November 2018

Our town is a hive of activity for organisations who are at the forefront of delivering the new technologies on we which we will all rely in the future.

Alongside the brilliant Research Councils based in Swindon, we are lucky to be home to some of the most innovative businesses in the country who are delivering more high-skilled jobs in our town.

That’s why I was delighted to open the expanded facilities of Recycling Technologies, who are world-leaders in tackling the scourge of plastic pollution.

Currently, only 10% of plastic globally is recycled, something which has led to the crisis of plastic pollution highlighted by the Blue Planet documentary. Research shows by 2050 our oceans are expected to contain more plastic than fish (by weight) if the situation is not addressed.

This new facility will be the hub for developing new RT7000 plastic recycling machines for installation in the UK and internationally. It’s fantastic news; meaning the creation of 300 new jobs & an apprenticeship programme for local young people.

Additionally, this week I’ve had the opportunity to champion the Summer Reading Challenge, who I launch each in Parliament.

The Challenge is an exciting initiative designed to encourage young people to read during the summer holidays, because evidence shows they can lose vital gains made in their reading abilities by not reading anything over the break.

It’s always a huge success in Swindon and this year 2,638 children took up the Challenge, with 1,596 completing it – an increase of 10% from last year. Over the summer 91,548 children’s books were issued and 701 children joined the library as new members.

To celebrate this I was delighted to hand out awards, donated by local businesses, to those who had excelled during the Challenge. Among the winners were children who read dozens of books, improving their skills, and going above & beyond.

Sadly this week I’ve also experienced the ugly side of politics; where words are twisted and deliberately misinterpreted.

As part of my role as a Work & Pensions Minister I was giving evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Benefit Cap. The cap is important – it ensures fairness to all taxpayers by limiting the maximum amount a household can receive in benefits.

One MP asked me what reasons people had stopped being subject to the cap, and I explained that analysis from 2014 showed examples included people who had moved house, renegotiated their rent, or taken in a lodger.

Despite being clear that this was evidence from historic cases, the Daily Mirror misquoted me saying I had called for people affected by the cap take in a lodger. I hadn’t.

One inaccurate article with a massively misleading quote sparked stories in several newspapers, a torrent of abuse of social media, and a journalist from the Daily Mirror waiting outside my house & doorstepping my neighbours. These are my family, friends & neighbours who have nothing to do with my political life – they shouldn’t be harassed in this way.

It’s right that we have a free press in this country and the role I do requires media scrutiny. I’m always open & approachable when people want to know my views on an issue, but the reporting of that needs to be accurate.

This week has shown once again that in politics words, as well as actions, matter.