The Prime Minister has set out a strong vision for the future of the UK

March 20, 2017

The Prime Minister has set out a strong vision for the future of the UK. Here is Theresa May’s letter on her plan:

Today I spoke at the Conservative Party Spring Forum, setting out our Plan for Britain – a plan to build a stronger, fairer Britain that is more united and more outward-looking. The EU referendum result was not just a vote to leave the European Union, but an instruction to change the way our whole country works – and the people for whom it works – forever. It was a call to make Britain a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

We want the United Kingdom to emerge from this period of national change, stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. So we are setting out the Government’s Plan for Britain to deliver this brighter future for our whole country – by getting the right deal for Britain abroad and a better deal for ordinary, working people at home.

First, we will forge a more Global Britain, securing a new partnership with Europe that will give us control of our borders and our laws, while trading beyond Europe and making Britain the leading advocate for free trade across the world, as we build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. We will continue to meet our commitments to support developing countries, and our armed forces as they keep our country safe, and shape decisions across the globe as we stand up for British values and interests in every part of the world.

Second, we will help to build a stronger economy by investing in the skills, sectors and areas that will deliver for Britain in the long-term. We will continue to bring the deficit down so that we live within our means. We will introduce a modern industrial strategy to help provide more opportunities for young people to find high-quality, high-skilled work and to spread jobs, prosperity and opportunity around the whole country. We will also seek to help people with everyday costs and bills by acting to ensure consumer markets work in the way they should, protect and enhance workers’ rights and crack down on individuals and businesses who abuse the system so that everyone plays by the same rules.

Third, we will support a fairer society where success is based on merit not privilege. We will provide access to a good school place that caters to the individual needs and abilities of every single child, whatever their background and wherever they live. We will ensure there is control of immigration so that it serves the national interest and is fair to everyone who lives and works in this country. We will deliver one million new homes so that more people have the chance to own or rent an affordable home of their own. We will continue to invest in the NHS, ensure our welfare system is fair to those who need it and those who pay for it, and tackle historic injustices like racial and gender discrimination that have held too many people back for far too long.

Fourth, we will foster a more united nation by strengthening the precious union of our United Kingdom and ensuring the voices and interests of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are represented as we negotiate to leave the European Union. We will put our national interest above any other consideration and make sure that the big decisions we take benefit the whole country, supporting towns, cities and communities right across the UK. We will actively work to bring people and communities together by promoting policies that support integration and social cohesion and by putting the values of fairness, responsibility and citizenship at the heart of everything we do.

This is our Plan for Britain’s future as we seek to make the most of the opportunities ahead and build a stronger, fairer Britain that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

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New scheme to ease cancer patients’ financial anxieties

March 20, 2017

I am pleased to hear of the new scheme that is being run by Hertfordshire County Council’s Money Advice Unit in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Care. This is a benefits advice service for people diagnosed with cancer and their families. The outcome is that no-one has to worry about money when they have cancer.

The new service is now taking referrals, which is possible by email – macmillan.benefitsadviceservice@hertfordshire.gov.uk – or by phone – 01438 843456.

More information from Macmillan Cancer Care is available at the Make Money One Less Worry Campaign – https://www.macmillan.org.uk/ – and their Benefits and Other Financial Support – http://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/organising/benefits-and-financial-support/benefits-and-your-rights.


Project launched for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi

February 23, 2017

Tuesday 21st February was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi off the Isle of Wight. In one of the UK’s biggest ever maritime disasters, 616 members of the South African Native Labour Corps and 30 crew members lost their lives.

I am very pleased to see that the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for the Centenary of the Great War – Dr Andrew Murrison MP – has, on Saturday 18th February launched ‘The Unremembered: World War One’s Army of Workers’. The launch took place in Portsmouth in the presence of the South African High Commissioner.

This worthwhile project tells the neglected story of labourers from across the globe who served in the various theatres of the First World War. This includes the sinking of the SS Mendi.

I am very happy to recommend this exhibit. Information detailing the tragedy can be found at: https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/first-world-war-home-front/what-we-already-know/sea/ssmendi/, and details of the project can be found at: http://www.bigideascompany.org/project/the-unremembered.


New funding pot for local charities

January 31, 2017

I welcome this excellent opportunity to get a special project off the ground to benefit the local community. Funding will be allocated to lots of different types of initiatives and it’s such a fantastic opportunity for local charities to get additional support that I encourage constituents to apply now.

The funding will be allocated through three Trusts, which support different categories of projects. There will be two opportunities for groups to apply in 2017 (January and August) and £3 million will be available for each funding round. The application process is simple. The first round – which opens from 23 January until 10 February 2017 – starts with organisations being encouraged to submit an ‘expression of interest’ form. Charities will then be shortlisted to complete a full application for funding.

The People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights, equal rights and conflict resolution for some of society’s most vulnerable groups. Postcode Local Trust supports wildlife, sustainability and volunteering initiatives. Postcode Community Trust focuses on grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.”

In August, interested groups and organisations can apply or re-apply when a second pot of £3million will become available. The maximum a project can receive is £20,000.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “£6million injected into grass-roots projects across Great Britain will have a tremendous impact in local communities. We encourage charities to put themselves forward for this funding and to have a look at the different Trusts to see where their project fits in.”

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £168.4 million to date for over 2,800 good causes across Great Britain and internationally. For more information on how to apply for funding, I recommend that you visit the Trusts’ websites: www.postcodetrust.org.uk.


The Secretary of State’s comprehensive industrial strategy

January 25, 2017

I welcome the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s comprehensive and clear industrial strategy. Here is his letter to MPs –

This is an important moment for the United Kingdom. As we prepare to leave the European Union, we must look forward and plan the long term policies and decisions that will shape how we earn a prosperous living in the years ahead.

Today’s Green Paper, “Building our Industrial Strategy”, is part of an open dialogue to develop this strategy as the enduring foundation of an economy that works for everyone.

We start from a position of considerable strength. We are the fifth biggest economy in the world, despite having the 22nd highest population. We have achieved higher levels of employment than ever before in our history – in fact 2.7 million more than in 2010. We have businesses, research institutions and cultural achievements at the very forefront of global excellence. And for all these reasons, we attract investment and talented individuals from around the world. But there are challenges that the UK must face up to, now and in the years ahead.

The first is to build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future.

Our excellence in key technologies, professions, research disciplines and institutions provides us with crucial competitive advantages. But we can’t take them for granted.

If other countries invest more in research and development, and we do not, then we cannot expect to keep, let alone extend, our technological lead in key sectors – or the world-beating performance of our universities. The same goes for our record as Europe’s leading destination for inward investment or our position as a centre of international finance. Our competitors are not standing still. They are upgrading infrastructure networks and reforming systems of governance. Therefore we too must strive for improvement.

In industrial sectors – from automotive and aerospace to financial and professional services and the creative industries – the UK has built a global reputation. But the competition for new investment is fierce and unending. The conditions that have allowed UK investment destinations to succeed include the availability of supportive research programmes, relevant skills in local labour markets and capable domestic supply chains. However, for continuing success, these foundations must be maintained and strengthened.

The second challenge is to ensure that every place meets its potential by working to close the gap between our best performing companies, industries, places and people and those which are less productive. The UK is one of the most centralised countries in the world, but this has not led to the country being uniformly prosperous. For all the global excellence of the UK’s best companies, industries, and places we have too many who lie far behind the leaders. That is why, on average, workers in France, Germany and the USA produce around as much in four days as UK workers do in five. It is also why despite having the most prosperous local economy in Northern Europe – in central London – we also have twelve of the twenty poorest among our closest neighbours.

For all the progress of more people going to university than ever before, too many people don’t have the education and skills they need to be able to command a good wage. We have more university graduates than the OECD average, but also more people with low levels of literacy and numeracy. We must address these long ‘tails’ of underperformance if we are to build a strong economy and ensure sustainable growth in living standards.

The third challenge is to make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to found or to grow a business. It’s worth noting that many of the most important companies in the world today didn’t even exist 25 years ago. Unlike in the past, industrial strategy must be about creating the right conditions for new and growing enterprise to thrive, not protecting the position of incumbents.

A modern industrial strategy must make this country a fertile ground for new businesses and new industries which will challenge and in some cases displace the companies and industries of today.

To meet these challenges we’ve identified ten pillars around which our proposals are structured – ten areas of action to drive growth right across the economy and in every part of the country.

They are:

  • Investing in science, research and innovation
  • Developing skills
  • Upgrading infrastructure
  • Supporting businesses to start and grow
  • Improving procurement
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors
  • Driving growth across the whole country
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

Across all of these areas, the Government is already taking strategic decisions to keep British industry on the front foot. For instance, the go ahead for major upgrades to our infrastructure such as Hinkley Point C, Heathrow and High Speed 2; and, in the Autumn Statement, the biggest increase in research and development spending since 1979.

Alongside today’s Green Paper we are launching a range of further measures. These include:

  • a new approach to enabling existing and emerging sectors to grow through Sector Deals – with reviews taking place regarding life sciences, ultra-low emission vehicles, industrial digitalisation, nuclear and the creative industries;
  • deciding on the priority challenges and technologies for the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to focus on, and the other opportunities we can address using the £4.7 billion increase in research and development funding; and
  • an overhaul of technical education, including £170 million of capital funding to set up institutes of technology to deliver education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

In a world containing so much uncertainty, public policy should aim to be a countervailing force for stability, not an additional source of unpredictability.

Whether in the public or private sector, investors need a stable policy framework against which they can make confident, long-term decisions. So our aim is to establish an industrial strategy for the long term.

To do that requires developing an enduring industrial strategy with, and not just for, the nations, communities and enterprises of the United Kingdom. That is why this is a Green Paper – a set of proposals for discussion and consideration, and an invitation to all to contribute collaboratively to their development.

I and my Ministerial team will be pleased to meet with you and other colleagues to hear your contributions and advice as we continue the development of this strategy.

Yours ever,

THE RT HON GREG CLARK MP

Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy


Investment opportunity for energy entrepreneurs

January 25, 2017

I welcome the announcement of a business accelerator programme which is helping the brightest entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs with innovative energy projects from the East of England with a chance to gain financial investment and support. The only criteria is that the idea must make a positive difference to society.

Ignite is the UK’s first impact investment fund that focuses on energy, providing firms with the funding and expertise they need to help achieve their potential and make a positive impact on society.  Since 2014, the programme has supported more than 25 enterprises across the country, committing investment totalling £8 million so far to businesses that are passionate about building a better and more energy efficient future.

It would be great to see projects from the constituency securing support and financial investment in this round of applications. Please visit www.ignitesocialenterprise.com to find out more.

Enterprises must submit their applications to the Big Energy Idea before 31 January. If shortlisted, they will be asked to pitch to a panel of industry and social enterprise experts in February.


Government announcement of further capital funding to improve the productivity of our local roads

January 25, 2017

I welcome the Government announcement that further capital funding will go to local councils in 2017/18 to improve the productivity of our local roads. Substantial funding is being provided.

Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for the Department of Transport made clear that “our roads network is used by 95 per cent of people every day and its vital this lifeline is enhanced and maintained. That is why the Government is committed to upgrading and renewing the local highway infrastructure.”

I am delighted that Hertfordshire has such a substantial allocation of funding. For Hertfordshire, there is a total allocation for 2017/18 of £20,692,000. The Highways Maintenance Block Needs Formula will benefit from £15,828,000 of the allocation. The Pothole Action Fund and the National Productivity Investment Fund benefit from £1,293,000 and £3,571,000 respectively. Our roads network is a crucial area of our public infrastructure, and this will help in improving productivity and easing of congestion. I am confident this will keep Hertfordshire moving ahead.