I hope this finds you well and you are looking forward to the long Easter weekend. I’m hoping for some decent weather and a bit of peace and quiet with my friends and family.
It was a very disappointing Budget from the latest Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt. The most recent figures show that since December 2019, the average household is having to find an extra £3,500 for the essentials of housing, fuel and power, food, clothing and footwear, household goods and services, and transport. The Budget did little to address the needs of the majority and instead gave away at least £2.75 billion to the wealthiest 1% by scrapping pension allowance and opening-up yet another tax-loophole for them.
I am pleased that they have listened to the campaign I have been a part of on the injustice of pre-payment meters and have asked Ofwat to instruct the energy companies to charge people using them the same rates as those who pay by direct debit. I would have liked this change to begin immediately, but users must wait until July before the changes happen. There are still issues around their standing charges which remain very high, and what happens to pre-payment rates when energy companies begin offering cheaper deals again.
The Chancellor appeared before the Treasury Select Committee the following week, and I was able to ask him when he was going to fulfil the promise he made to me in November that he would meet with the head of the Trades Union Congress to discuss public sector funding and pay. The TUC had written to the Chancellor and his special advisor three times since then requesting a meeting and had no response. His reply was that he is waiting for “the appropriate time.”
Support your local businesses
I also brought up the plight of small businesses with the Chancellor. They don’t have time to wait to see what the economic forecast will look like in six months’ time, they need support, and they need it now. The small businesses I speak to in Hull and East Yorkshire don’t share the Chancellor’s unrealistic view that “everything is fine” and neither do the Federation of Small Businesses who said his budget “proves that small firms are overlooked and undervalued.”
I am trying to secure a debate in Parliament about the help they need, and in the constituency, I’m encouraging people to tell me about the great local businesses they use and have been visiting as many during Easter recess and then publicising it on social media to try and give them a boost. If you know of any you think deserve a shout-out, let me know. If the government won’t help them, it’s up to us.
I mentioned last time that there were things happening around flood prevention in Derringham. I met with the Living with Water team for a look around and to hear their plans. The area constituents had contacted me about is getting its own aquagreen, which will soak away water and prevent water runoff into gardens and flooding down the ten foots. There will also be work in other parts of the ward including verges.
Right now, residents are being consulted over the proposed works and how they would like it to look. More details, with a “before and after” photo, here