As I write this, it’s the first day of spring, although it doesn’t look it. Hopefully we’re looking towards some warmer weather after what’s been a really tough, cold winter for so many people across our towns and villages.
It was a big week last week in Westminster with the Chancellor announcing the Budget for the year ahead. I was able to speak in the debate that evening and voice some of the concerns that had been raised to me by constituents and local businesses.
One of the most pressing concerns is the lack of support for small businesses. We’re lucky to have a large number of small businesses in our towns and villages that contribute so much to our local economy and community. I know how valued they are by residents and that it’s a real loss when they have no option but to close their doors.
Recently, two pubs, one in Warwick and one in Leamington were in touch to say they had no choice now but to shut up shop, the spiralling costs of their bills were too much to manage. This is echoed by the Federation of Small Businesses that has said that small businesses have been short-changed by this Budget. I was also disappointed to see no support for the self-employed, many of whom live and work in our communities.
I have heard from a number of constituents that the costs of childcare are proving increasingly unaffordable with parents struggling to meet the soaring costs and having to put their careers on hold in order to stay home and look after their young children. It looked like there may be a glimmer of hope in this Budget and something to ease this real pressure on parents, but the reality is that the plans announced by the Chancellor will not in fact address the profound structural problems in child-care. A child born last September will not be eligible for the childcare package announced until September 2025, at which point they’d be eligible for the existing 3-year-old offer anyway. It’s not enough to help families who are struggling today.
Elsewhere, the tax break being given to the highest earners feels inappropriate at such a time of such hardship for so many families. The notion that this pensions tax break that benefits just 1% of the population is fair is risible. However, I, and my party, do believe that we needed to bring in changes for NHS health professionals to motivate them to stay on rather than retire early. That was the only change that was needed.
This week was the sixth anniversary of the killing of PC Keith Palmer during the murderous attack on Parliament. PC Palmer put himself between democracy and those that would seek to destroy it. He was a fine bobby and a credit to his profession. My thoughts are with him once more on this tragic anniversary.
Finally, I was deeply concerned to read the figures surrounding the number of police officers accused of violence against women and girls, totalling to 1,500 over a six-month period with less than 1% being sacked. After the shocking murder of Sarah Everard, only 2 years ago this month, by a serving police officer, and the outrageous case of David Carrick, it’s obvious that a huge amount of work is needed to restore trust in the police, particularly for women and girls across our communities. I continue to meet regularly with our local police force and will raise these concerns with them.
As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any issues you would like to raise with me. I can be reached at [email protected] or on 01926 882006.
Matt Wester MP for Warwick and Leamington