£750 million fund to support the charitable sector
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.
More support is needed for the self-employed
A significant number of you have written in to outline your concerns about the lack of support provided for the self-employed and freelancers. So far the economic measures announced by the Government haven’t really touched these groups and this is something I am very aware of. The Government has dramatically improved access to the benefits system for the self-employed, but clearly a lot more needs to be done. I understand that Treasury Ministers are currently working on a package of support for the self-employed and this support should be announced within the coming days. As the Member of Parliament for Ipswich I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer making clear my views and that more support for the self-employed should be forthcoming.
I am well aware of the huge contribution that the self-employed make to Ipswich’s economy and I will do whatever I can to support you during this difficult time.
Orwell Bridge Update
I have just posted off a letter to Highways England regarding the current situation with the Orwell Bridge, I have sent a copy of my letter to the Transport Secretary. This follows the recent publication of the report into the Orwell Bridge by Highways England and recent closures. Though on the one hand its good to see that this time next year there will likely be no more wind related closures of the Orwell Bridge because of the new speed restriction, it is frustrating that it will likely take an extended period of time for these new measures to be introduced, meaning that in the short term there will be no relief.
I do not believe that Highways England have embraced this issue with the urgency required. Closures of the bridge cause major disruption for my constituents and taking 14 months to produce the study was unacceptable. You can understand that when Highways England massively overrun on the time they said it would take to produce the report, that many of us are concerned that Highways England will take a long time to introduce the measures outlined in the study. In my letter I have been clear that I will be monitoring the situation closely and would like to have regular meeting to check progress. Some of the contents of the report were encouraging but we need quick action, not more dithering and delay. The reality is that the wind this weekend was so strong that even with a reduce speed limit this weekend closure may have been necessary.
Not all closures of the wind are linked to the strength of the wind and many other factors connected to the Bridge clearly need to be explored. Its also very frustrating to be told that introducing a 40mph speed limit is the solution when this could have been done years ago and how much disruption and damage to the local economy could have been avoided?
Beer & Pubs – Let’s get behind them!
A lot of people have written into me about pubs and their concerns that the current tax regime doesn’t allow our local pubs to thrive. I’ve had some of my best moments in Ipswich at our pubs and I share their concerns that high beer duty and business rates are causing pubs to struggle and in some cases even shut down.
I recently represented this view in Parliament including the comment of one landlord I spoke to who said he felt more like a tax collector than a small business owner.
I’ve called on the Government to get behind landlords and pubs in the next budget as the current system does not work.
Pubs employ around 1,500 people in Ipswich and are great venues for the community to come together over a drink – jobs, landlords and community must be at the heart of reform.