Botley was the surprise setting yesterday for the announcement of a new series of national savings bonds by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
The Chancellor was meeting a group of local pensioners in the newly opened Courtyard Bistro at Botley Mill, one of number start-up enterprises at the historic venue.
The new bonds will be available to over 65 year-olds from January as either a one-year or a three-year bond and will pay a market leading 2.8% or 4% respectively.
Savers will be able invest from £500 to £10,000 in each bond so a married couple could buy up to £40,000 worth.
While the current record run of low interest rates may have been good for borrowers many retired people, dependent on savings, have experienced a fall in their income and the news was so well received that the assembled pensioners broke into a spontaneous round of applause at the end of the Chancellor’s visit.
Mims Davies, the Conservative candidate for Eastleigh in the General Election, accompanied the Chancellor during the visit and took the opportunity to introduce him to local campaigners Graham and Anne Hunter.
The Hunter’s 22 year-old daughter Claire died last year after her heart stopped suddenly while at a health spa. The spa didn’t have a defibrillator and Graham-who is a Botley parish councillor – has been campaigning to have more defibrillators installed in public places.
Graham Hunter told the Chancellor that defibrillators were subject to VAT and the cost was a burden to those raising money for public access defibrillators who could otherwise put the money towards purchasing more life-saving equipment.
Speaking to reporters George Osborne described the Hunters as “a really impressive couple who have been through a terrible time” and promised he would look into the issues and see what the national government can do to support them.
The Chancellor told Eastleigh News:
“I was here today to talk to pensioners about savings but as a result of this visit to Botley I have discovered this whole other issue which I am going to take away and think about it and see what I can do to help”
A delighted Graham Hunter explained that defibrillators that were purchased by schools or doctor’s surgeries were already VAT exempt but there was a national campaign to have public access defibrillators which could be installed in shops or gyms, zero-rated as well.
Eastleigh News asked the Chancellor why local voters should vote conservative and if the savings measures he had announced were just to soften of the blow of ‘heavy taxes rises’ predicted by Nick Clegg.
Osborne said the economic policies of the other parties only offered ‘chaos’ and urged voters:
“Judge us by our record.
“I said I was going to support pensioners and savers and you can see I have by my announcement today. It’s part of a really strong package that is deliverable because we have a long-term economic plan.”