Yesterday I raised with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the need for the newly announced £170 million Covid Winter Support grant scheme to be easy to access for those who need the support the most and that work must start now to ensure this is the case.
I welcome the fact that the Government are providing £170 million to local councils from the start of next month until March to provide targeted support to the children and families who are most vulnerable over the winter (80% ring fenced for food and bills) but we need to ensure that everyone knows as much as possible about the fund and how it will work in practice, as soon as possible.
In her response to my question the Secretary of State who is of course a Suffolk MP I was able to share with me that it seems that Suffolk is in line for around £2 million through this fund. However the work must start now to identify those who need the support the most and raise awareness of this fund.
Earlier this year the Government provided £800,000 to Suffolk and Suffolk Councils added further to this to provide a £1.5 million Suffolk Hardship Fund. However my concern is that awareness of this fund wasn’t as widespread as it could have been and I know that some concerns have been raised by those who have tried to access this fund through the hotline provided.
I plan to hold a number of meetings over the coming weeks to ensure that the support provided works as intended and that the moment this money is distributed to Suffolk we are well placed to ensure that the support gets to all those who need it as soon as possible.
All in all what was announced on Sunday was unprecedented in its scope and ambition to support the most vulnerable however it needs to work in practice on the ground and I’m keen to play my part to ensure this is the case. It must be easily identifiable, easy to understand and efficient in distributed support to all those who need the help.
As I’ve said before I really do welcome the Holiday Activities and Food Programme having seen it in action in Ipswich over the summer. The £220 million expansion of this support across the country to cover next Easter holidays, Summer and Christmas 2021 is hugely positive news.
Following my visit to the Hawthorn Drive GP surgery, I’ve now written to the Health Secretary calling for fairer funding for GP surgeries in Ipswich. At the moment the national funding formula doesn’t take into account local pockets of deprivation when working out how much money GP surgeries should get. Yet this is a significant reasons why Hawthorn Drive and a number of other GP surgeries see more people who are living with mental illness and other conditions. This has contributed to the funding pressure the Hawthorn Drive practice is under and this pressure will only get greater with an aging demographic in Chantry.
I’ve called on the Health Secretary to look at increasing funding for the Hawthorn Drive Surgery in particular but also GP services across Ipswich which are losing out in this way. The second lockdown will only increase the pressure in areas like mental health and it mustn’t be areas with higher disadvantage which get left behind.
Very honoured to have laid a wreath at this mornings Remembrance Sunday service on Christchurch Park. A much scaled back socially distanced event but an extremely poignant one nonetheless. Well done to the Suffolk Royal British Legion and all those involved in putting today’s service together. Very strange the national anthem being played and not being able to sing but I’m glad that this Sunday like every other Sunday we were able to mark the occasion. I was pleased to see that many others were able to join us but in a safe way. I very much hope and believe that this time next year the park will again be filled with thousands people from across Town wanting to pay their respects. We must never forget the extraordinary sacrifice made by those who have given their lives for our country and the liberties and freedoms and are so intrinsic to who we are.
Spoke in Parliament on Wednesday about PC Andrew Harper and the need for mandatory life sentences for those found guilty of killing police officers. This is what the campaign led by PC Harper’s widow, Lissie, is calling for. I had planned to meet Lissie last month although unfortunately I wasn’t able to in the end because of my self-isolation. But of course this campaign has my full backing.
The three thugs who killed PC Harper brutally dragged him behind their car for over a mile but inexplicably were only found guilty of manslaughter. All of 3 of them will most likely be let out of prison with the vast majority of their life ahead of them despite ending the life of a young police officer and leaving his family with a wound that will never fully heal.
I was one of the 22 Conservative MPs who wrote the Attorney General earlier this year calling on her to review the pitiful sentences of the men who killed PC Harper, and I won’t stop raising it. His family deserves justice, but there also needs to be a complete confidence among the public that there will be no tolerance for those who harm the police officers who keep us safe.