After a very busy few weeks which saw crucial Brexit legislation pass through Parliament, the Commons has now adjourned for summer recess. Term ended with the welcome announcement by Government of the biggest public sector pay rise in almost 10 years. This pay rise recognises the vital work that teachers, the police, our armed forces, prison officers, doctors and dentists do, and will benefit around a million public sector workers. It can be funded because of the balanced approach the Government has taken to the public finances over recent years. The economy is now 16.7 per cent bigger than 2010 and debt will begin to fall as a percentage of GDP next year, meaning more money for our public services instead of debt repayments. The increase is fair to public sector workers, affordable for taxpayers, and will help make sure we have the workforce we need to deliver world class public services.
Along with several Parliamentary colleagues, I will be participating in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS). Members are given the chance to select which branch of our armed forces they wish to be assigned to and with our rich maritime heritage in the South West, I chose the Royal Navy. I was briefed last week on the future programme which includes opportunities to visit ships and meet crews around the UK. The scheme provides an invaluable insight into the unique lives and experiences of our Servicemen and women.
Understanding the work of our military is vital to ensuring their interests are protected by Parliament. Fewer and fewer MPs have direct military experience, so the AFPS is vital for informed debate and decision-making. I am looking forward to the start of the scheme in September which begins with a visit to Shrivenham Defence Academy. The Defence Academy provides higher education for personnel in the British Armed Forces.
The NHS in the South West of England is in line for a tech-funding boost of up to £40.3 million, new Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock announced last weekend, as he unveiled his vision to make the NHS the world’s most advanced healthcare system. In his first major speech since taking post, the Health and Social Care Secretary announced the funding as part of a half a billion pound national package, available immediately to the NHS, to rollout innovative tech aimed at improving efficiency, enhancing patient safety and helping more patients access health services at home.
Under initial plans for the funding, the South West is to receive £10.1m for 2018/19, £9.03m for 2019/20, and £22.1m for 2020/21. I am delighted to see Devon is expected to receive over £8 million but funding won’t be formally allocated until bids from local ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ are submitted and approved.
Last week, invitations were sent out for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Health and Social Care’s event in September on the rural integration of health and social care. I chair the APPG having set it up in 2016 to address the health and social care issues affecting rural communities, particularly Devon. Guest speakers will include, Sir Richard Ibbotson, Chair of South Devon NHSFT; Lily Makurah, Public Health England; and Frances Simpson, Chief Executive, Support in Mind Scotland. This is one of a number of events coming up in an exciting programme of sessions for the APPG, including the launch of an eight-part inquiry into the provision of health and social care in rural areas.
Summer recess gives me time to get out and about in the constituency, catching up with local businesses, community groups and constituents. I have a packed schedule of local events, surgeries, and meetings and I am looking forward to being back at home in Devon, enjoying the glorious sunshine.
My next surgery is in Newton Abbot on Friday 10th August at 2pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.