It has been an eventful year! It has been dominated by the unwarranted aggression by Russia invading Ukraine and its consequences, the cost-of-living crisis as energy prices rise and the aftermath of Covid and the health care backlog. And of course partygate which has resulted in an election for a new leader of the Conservative Party following Boris Johnson’s resignation. The final two candidates for the Conservative leadership chosen by Conservative MPs are Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. The two candidates will now spend the summer at hustings around the country before the party members vote to elect the winner later in the summer. The winner will be announced on 5 September. I outlined in my previous column my thoughts on who the logical choice should be.
The UK Government’s response both in terms of providing support to the Ukrainian government and also launching the Homes for Ukraine scheme has been outstanding. One of Boris’s legacy’s will undoubtedly be his leadership of the West in his support for Ukraine at a time of crisis. While the resettlement scheme has had its problems- my team have lost count of the number of hours they’ve spent either on the phone to or visiting the Home Office hub in Parliament- in the end there has been for many families a happy ending. It has been incredible to see the amount of support the local community has provided in throwing open their homes and resources to Ukrainian families fleeing the war. The fact that the community has taken in a disproportionately large number of people, relative to its size, compared to other areas, rather says it all!
I also want to briefly touch on another issue that I know a number of people are having issues with – the passport office. HMPO are seeing an increased number of cases. If constituents have experienced particularly long waits (10+ weeks) for their visas please do get in touch and the team will attempt to get an update on the situation. Please ensure that any email on this contains: Name(s), Date of Birth, Address and the ‘PEX’/Reference number as well as any booked travel dates. We cannot expedite cases but we can ask for an update on them. We can also identify any that might qualify for particular attention on compassionate grounds.
The consequences of Covid continue with a huge back log of health care appointments. This has to be a number one priority to address along with the economy by the next Prime Minister. We can’t as they say go on like this. We need a very radical review and reform of our systems to make them work not just for patients but for doctors and nurses too who are as frustrated with the system as patients are. The Health and Social Care Act has been a good start but more is needed. And social care reform is even more pressing.
Over the last year, 52 Bills have received Royal Assent (enacted into law) on a whole range of issues from the Health & Social Care Act to the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act to the Building Safety Act. As to what we can expect to see next term, this very much depends on who the next Prime Minister is. One thing is clear – it can’t be business as usual! We can expect to see the next Budget take place in October and it is crucial that this includes measures to alleviate the cost of living crisis we currently find ourselves in, as well as boosting UK productivity and ensuring business continues to thrive. Then I hope to see not just planning and housing reform – and reform to improve access to health and social care, but measures to drive growth.
As always, if you would like to book a surgery appointment (in-person or virtual) or raise a specific issue, please call my office on 01626 368277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.