2022 has been an extraordinarily difficult year with the unjustifiable Russian invasion of Ukraine leading to higher energy, fuel and food prices which have hit the pockets of local families and businesses hard. As Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee until October, I pressed successfully for support for those on the lowest incomes and for businesses struggling to stay afloat. More than 8,500 low income families in Central Devon are receiving £1,200 in cost of living support, the cap on energy bills will save the typical local household £1,000, and many businesses are seeing their energy bills cut by 40%.
In October I was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - a huge responsibility but one which has given our constituency a strong voice at the cabinet table. In November I took the decision, in consultation with the Chancellor, to fully uprate the state pension by inflation. This means that pensioners here in Central Devon will see their state pension rise in line with September’s inflation rate (10.1%) for the 2023-24 tax year. I also uprated benefits in line with inflation to support those on the lowest incomes who have been impacted most by the rising cost of living.
Within Central Devon some of my local action this year includes:
- Visiting 60 local businesses to listen to concerns and to provide help and support where I can.
- Helping more than 100 Ukrainian refugees reach our constituency by providing help with visa applications and passport problems.
- Fighting to preserve local healthcare provision, (pictured petitioning for the re-opening of Pathfinder GP Surgery with Teignbridge Councillors Terry Tume and Stephen Purser) and working with local care providers to promote careers in adult social care.
- Speaking to 250 local primary school pupils in Newton St Cyres, Hatherleigh, Dunsford, Bradninch and Chagford about Parliament, democracy, British values and climate change.
- Working with The Focus Training Group in Heathfield and Moor Training in Okehampton to promote local apprenticeships.
- Meeting with local members of the National Farmers Union and taking up concerns in person with the then Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs George Eustice.
- Visiting 15 local post office branches to champion our rural post office network and promote the banking services they provide.
- Lobbying for funding for a second rail station in Okehampton to maximise the economic benefits of the new Dartmoor Line.
- Visiting new housing developments, including in Moretonhampstead and Exminster, to discuss how we can meet the local housing need.
- Supporting important local organisations (such as Crediton and Buckfastleigh food banks and Bovey Paradiso) with funding bids.
Much of my time has also been spent dealing with individual correspondence from constituents (I sometimes receive more than a thousand emails and letters a week). If I can help you with any local problem please email email@example.com or for urgent enquiries ring 0207 219 7037.