Rural Related Politics - An RSN weekly review

02 March 2020

Below is an RSN review of last week's rural related politics as well as a look forward to the week ahead:


Last week in politics 
(24 February -  1 March)

On Monday 24th, Kit Malthouse (Con) contributed to a debate on rural crime arguing that forces that have large rural communities ought to recognise that dealing with serious violence has to be top of their list, just as it is in London, Manchester or Liverpool.

On Tuesday 25th, Ruth Edwards (Con) tabled a debate, arguing that we need to invest in health centres in rural communities in order to take the pressure off accident and emergency units and hospitals. She also welcomed the Government’s commitment to ‘levelling up’ between urban and rural areas, as the latter have historically often seen lower investment in healthcare.

On Tuesday 25th, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick (Con) confirmed a £49 billion funding package for councils in what the Government says is the ‘biggest real-terms increase in spending power in a decade’. It includes an increase of £2.9 billion or 4.4 per cent of funding in real terms. The package includes £1 billion of new social care grant funding, a continuation of all existing social care grants, and the ability for authorities to raise up to £500 million more for adult social care. It also includes a commitment to redistribute £40 million of business rates income to councils. The Government has committed £907 million to continue the New Homes Bonus scheme in 2020 to 2021 and will maintain last year’s Rural Services Delivery Grant at £81 million.

In Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 26th, Phillip Dunne (Con): asked the Prime Minister to use his influence to increase spending on flood defences. Boris Johnson responded by assuring the Government is working ‘flat out night and day’, and another £4 billion was due to be invested in flood defences. Johnson also argued that the investments the Conservatives have made to flood defences were only possible because of the Government running a ‘dynamic economy’. He agreed that insurance claims need to be looked at, but some measures are already in place to help those without the proper insurance. Finally, Johnson responded that he has had to deal not only with flood defences, but the early release of terrorists and the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers.

Laura Trott (Con) asked the Prime Minister what he is planning to do in order to address delays in the railway line through Sevenoaks.

Marco Longhi (Con) asked the Prime Minister for support to the Towns Fund to level up the impact of the project. In September, the government announced a £3.6 billion Towns Fund for towns across England to work with the government to develop innovative regeneration plans. The towns eligible for support from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund include places with proud industrial and economic heritage but have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.

Ian Mearns (Lab) asked the Prime Minister to address stark health inequalities across the north and south of the country as local budgets are ‘slashed repeatedly’.

On Thursday 27th, Victoria Prentis (Con) answered Richard Holden (Con)’s question on what plans there are to support people reliant on coal for fuel in finding alternatives.  Ms Prentis said that the proposals included in the Government response outline its intention to roll out the policy in a phased approach, to ensure that those reliant on coal or wood as a primary heat source have time and support they need to transition to the cleanest alternative fuel types, whilst minimising any associated costs.

On Thursday there will be an eighth reading of the Agriculture Bill in the House of Commons.

This week in politics (2 March -  8 March)
  • On Monday 2nd the All-Party Parliamentary Group for youth employment will meet.
  • On Tuesday 3rd, there will be Westminster Hall debates on the nursing workforce shortage in England and housing and planning. There will also be oral questions on improving the provision of arts and cultural services at local and regional level. Elsewhere, there will also be the ninth and tenth sitting of the Agriculture Bill in the Public Bill Committee, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for council housing will meet.
  • On Wednesday 4th, MPs will debate flooding before turning to health inequalities. The All-Party Parliamentary Groups on the County will meet, and the West Coast Main Line APPG will hold their AGM. The new West Coast franchise operator - Avanti, First and Trenitalia - will present their first update and briefing for MPs and peers.
  • On Thursday 5th March, the House of Commons General Committees will host an eleventh and twelfth reading of the Agriculture Bill.

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