Last week I met with Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez in Ashburton to discuss how we can reduce the risk of people falling victim to scams, both on the doorstep and online. This kind of fraud can be devastating for the victims and is believed to cost the UK around £5-£10billion a year. Key to this is tackling the stigma that surrounds being scammed as victims often fail to report the crime because they are embarrassed that they ‘fell’ for a scam or feel it was their fault. They shouldn’t – many scams are extremely convincing, particularly those that appear to come from official organisations. This lack of reporting makes it more difficult for the police, both in terms of stopping the scam and prosecuting the criminal. Scams can be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and useful information about avoiding scams can be found at www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk.
On Thursday I urged my constituents to support an initiative to boost trade for independent shops. Independents Day UK (held appropriately on 4th July) is the culmination of a year-round campaign to promote small, independent retail businesses across the country with those who can afford it encouraged to spend £5 in a local independent shop. We are fortunate to have some wonderful market towns across our Central Devon constituency, with independent traders accounting for the majority of retail outlets, and the more we can support them the more we are helping to support local job retention and maintain the diversity and choice in our high streets.
On Friday I visited an affordable housing development in South Tawton near Okehampton. I previously visited the site in January 2018 as work began and was delighted to return to see the homes finished and now lived in. If you are not quite sure what is meant by ‘affordable housing’, the term describes homes which are built and then either rented out or sold at below market value to those on lower incomes and usually with a local connection. There may also be opportunities for residents to part-buy and part-rent so a family can increase ownership over time. I have visited more than 30 sites (at various stages of construction) in our Central Devon constituency since becoming an MP, providing support or advice if needed at the planning stages or later down the line if residents need help chasing developers over any problems. During my two years as Financial Secretary to the Treasury I was proud that we increased government funding for affordable housing from £7.1billion to £9.1billion.
In Westminster I took questions within my role as Leader of the House of Commons on a variety of issues including climate change, pension credit, homelessness, housing, early cancer diagnosis, prison reform, post offices and the recent leaked A-level maths paper scandal. To see these exchanges, please visit www.parliamentlive.tv/Commons.
For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit www.melstridemp.com.