Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a good Christmas and has lots of exciting plans for 2022. I am pleased that we are continuing with Plan B rather than further restrictions for the next three weeks. The number of Covid patients is going up in our local hospitals, so we need to continue to be careful.
We are going to have to learn to live with this disease. Omicron seems to be less deadly than the Delta variant, although sadlywe are still seeing deaths. There are plenty of Lateral Flow Tests but the distribution has been patchy, so please persist on the website if you are finding it difficult. Let me know if that is the case so we can track it.
35 million people have received their booster vaccination. They will do much to prevent many more hospitalisations and deaths.
We went back to Westminster this week for two days during which I spent time in Ministerial meetings with the Department of Work and Pensions, but also had time to attend Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
As you know, PMQs can be an unusually raucous event, but occasionally there is one question that everyone listens to and this week the Welsh MP, Liz Saville Roberts, asked about the support that her mother, recently diagnosed with dementia, will be getting when she goes into a care home. She is concerned that visits from family are being denied and care needs to be people-centred.
This is an issue that affects so many families, particularly during the pandemic, so there was a lot of support for Liz personally but also recognition by the Government that this is not acceptable. The Government’s White Paper on Social Care’s title is ‘People at the Heart of Care’ and has three objectives:
1. People have choice, control and support to live independent lives
2. People can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support
3. People find adult social care fair and accessible
You can find more about the White Paper here People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and I would be very grateful for your comments on it which I will pass back to Ministers.
We need to make sure that we get it right and your views would be very helpful. Hampshire County Council has a very good record in social care and has been very quick to help constituents that have contacted me. I am very grateful for the hard work of everyone working in social care.
One of the benefits of leaving the EU is that we are able to design our own agricultural and environmental policies. There was another announcement this week that continues the theme of supporting our farmers towards more sustainable farming and food production.
I have been very worried about soil health having met a constituent who is an expert in this area and am very pleased that we are taking measures to help the biodiversity in our countryside and farming communities.
All the schemes are voluntary but grants and incentives should help reduce inorganic fertiliser and pesticide use which will help improve soil condition, biodiversity, water quality and carbon sequestration. You can find out more here Environmental land management schemes: outcomes - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk
I am sorry to be so technical this week but I do get emails and complaints on the doorstep about what are we doing to change lives following Brexit and the (rightly or wrongly) fixation by the media on shenanigans going on at No 10 rather than an analysis of some of the good policies that we are putting forward.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, we are doing some incredible work on every aspect of our lives. Another White Paper that you might be interested in is on prisons (Prisons Strategy White Paper (publishing.service.gov.uk), which should help improve reoffending rates.
We are also expecting a new planning and levelling up White Paper shortly. The views you gave me on the last planning white paper were forwarded and have led to a change in policy, so it does work.
As I have been typing this I have seen the sad news that Jack Dromey, the Labour MP for Erdington has died. He was married to Harriet Harman MP, and was liked and respected across the House. My thoughts are with Harriet and her family.
I will be out knocking on doors with the Conservative team over the next few months as well as holding some village hall meetings so hope to hear some of your views then.
Have a great weekend.