MAJOR BOOST TO THE CAMPAIGN FOR A RURAL STRATEGY:
The Independent Food, Farming & Countryside Commission hosted by the RSA in its report launched on Tuesday 16th July ‘Our Future in the Land’ has added its voice to the calls by the RSN and the House of Lords Select Committee for a comprehensive Rural Strategy (more to follow)
On Monday 11, during a debate on closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged children, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP highlighted that rural poverty often means children are doubly disadvantaged. She said that the apprenticeship levy had overlooked small rural schools meaning that they could often not afford to hire a teaching assistant.
On Wednesday 13, the Chancellor delivered the Spring Statement. He assigned £717 million to improve roads, drainage and infrastructure to build up to 37,000 new homes. He also announced new planning measures to help the Government hit a target of 300,000 new homes per year. Elsewhere, the Grand Committee in the House of Lords considered the Rural Development (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations. Lord Gardiner of Kimble discussed funding for rural communities and emphasised that the changes were necessary to ensure the Government guarantees were honoured and payments made using domestic funding as opposed to funding from the EU.
On Thursday 14 following the Spring Statement, Shadow Leader of the House Valerie Vaz highlighted that there had been nothing mentioned in the Spring Statement on local authorities or social care.
On Friday 15, Emma Howard Boyd was reappointed as chair of the Environment Agency.
On Tuesday 19 March, MPs will put questions to the Business Secretary Greg Clark. Ben Bradley MP and Henry Smith MP will ask about the recent steps of the department to support small businesses, Maria Caulfield MP will then ask about the steps the Government is taking to support high street businesses. Post office closures will also be discussed. Also on Tuesday, MPs will debate the effect of leaving the EU on the UK’s health and social care sector.
On Wednesday 20 March, there will be debates on wildlife crime and tourism in the east of England. The adjournment debate will centre around exports from small businesses. Later, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People will meet as part of its inquiry into decent and accessible homes for older people in the private rented sector.
On Friday 22 March, the Banking and Post Office Services (Rural Areas and Small Communities) Bill and the Minimum Service Obligation (High Street Cashpoints) Bill both have their second readings in Parliament.
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