I have been written to by the Health Secretary to inform me that just under £200 million will be written off Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals Trust debt. This is good news for Ipswich Hospital.These are unprecedented times and the pressure on resources at our Hospital has never been greater therefore this is a very welcome move by the Government. The sole focus for the leadership at the Trust should be on saving lives and hopefully this move by the Government will give them the confidence to take whatever steps they need to take to save lives without having to worry about the financial sustainability of the Trust in the medium to long term. These are not normal times and I think this was the correct decision for the Government to take. NHS workers at our Hospital continue to preform heroic deeds day in day out at the moment and I was pleased to also be informed today that there has been a big increase in ICU capacity at the Hospital.
So glad the Prime Minister has now left hospital. He will be spending the next week or so at the Chequers retreat to build up his strength again and make a full recovery. I have no doubt he will return stronger than ever in the next few weeks. Thank you so much to all the wonderful NHS staff who saved the life of our Prime Minister. Here is a message he has just released 👇
A few constituents have asked me about MP expenses during the coronavirus. Let me make absolutely clear, MP’s have not been awarded £10,000 extra pay. Clearly this would be a massive insult at a time when huge numbers of people across the country are struggling as a direct result of the crisis and if this was the case I would be the first person to label the situation as “disgraceful”. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) which is independent of MP’s, without my knowledge decided to make an extra £10,000 office costs available to MP’s to facilitate the transition to home working and to help communicate key information relating to COVID-19 to constituents. The feeling being that many MP’s need to have access to certain IT equipment to continue to provide services to constituents at a time when many offices have been closed, printers, laptops etc. As it happens I will not be accessing this money, both myself and my staff already have adequate access to IT equipment to carry on providing the same level of service to constituents. There is a printer in my Ipswich office so if necessary we can go to the office print/scan. My view is that increasing the office cost allowance by £10,000 is a little unnecessary but it was a decision taken by others and is beyond my control all I can do is account for my own office expenses. I have to say though I strongly object to the way this has been portrayed in the media. Its irresponsible journalism pitting people against each other at a time when we should be coming together to support each other.
I appreciate MPs are held in pretty low regard by many but its slightly frustrating to be accused of pocketing thousands of pounds by people who as a result of questionable journalism don’t seem to be fully aware of the facts. Like other MP’s since the outbreak of the coronavirus I have seen a significant increase in the number of constituents contacting me for help and advice and my number one priority is making sure I do everything I can to support them.
Covered quite a few issues in my Ipswich Star column this week. The Prime Minister’s recovery, the need to keep public parks open but also hold to account the small minority who are flouting social distancing rules and endangering us all. Beautiful weather this weekend, by all means enjoy your daily exercise but otherwise please stay home and follow the guidelines. Very difficult I know but its a must.
Following yesterday’s announcement by Government that there will be a £750 million fund to support the charitable sector today I wrote to every single charity in Ipswich encouraging them to get in contact with me if there is anything they think I might be able to do to support them. Yesterday’s announcement was welcome but crucial questions remain and its vital that this money gets to the charities who need it the most ASAP. There are a huge number of charities carrying out invaluable work often with highly vulnerable people across Town and as a result of the coronavirus many face an uncertain future due to the way in which their fundraising activity has been negatively impacted. As I said yesterday I’m glad that half of the £750 million is being reserved for small local charities that work with vulnerable people.
Here is an update about some of the amazing services that are available in our area to help you through this difficult time.
I know many of you still have a lot of questions surrounding Covid-19. I am working hard to keep everyone updated so please contact me if you have any further questions.
About two weeks ago I launched “Talking with Tom” so constituents can get in touch and fine a time to talk. This is particularly focused at anyone who is lonely due to self-isolation and it is for this reason why I have worked with AGE UK Suffolk to publicise it. I’ve had many chats with constituents over the past couple of weeks and have really enjoyed it so please do get in touch if you’d like to have a chat or if you know of anyone who might be interested. Frankly at times its felt that I’ve been benefiting from it as much as the people I’ve been calling especially following my own self-isolation last week. I am busy with emails etc but I have plenty of time to talk to you so please don’t hold back, email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on: 01473 599 155 to set up a time to talk.
My latest weekly column in the Star. This week I have written about the fine line that the Police have to tread between ensuring that the social distancing guidance is followed and enforced where necessary whilst at the same time not being too overbearing and overzealous like some Police forces have been across the country. It’s not an easy balance to strike and these are unprecedented times for the place and they have my sympathy, its a very difficult job. It does seem at the moment that Suffolk Police are getting the balance about right. I appreciate that many of you have raised concerns with me regarding the social distancing guidelines initially not being enforced however over the past few days the Police have carried out a number of patrols across the Town and they’re enforcing the guidance when necessary and I’ve yet to see any evidence of them doing so in an overbearing way. However constituents continue to get in contact with me regarding examples of the social distancing rules not being followed and I will continue to monitor the situation closely.
So I am now done with Parliament this side of Easter, Wednesday was the last day Parliament was sitting. Normally an Easter recess would involve me meeting with hundreds of constituents and being busy across the town, this Easter recess will clearly be very different. So my job will be responding to constituents that are struggling and have got difficulties relating to the Coronavirus.
I know this is a really difficult time for all of us, especially for those from vulnerable groups that are self isolating and will be feeling lonely, but also for those businesses and those that are self-employed, it is very difficult for you and your families at this time. I will do everything I can to support you, whether that is chasing ministers for responses or getting answer to questions. If you have a specific enquiry or case you would like me and my team to look into, please email email@example.com with your full address and I will respond as soon as I can.