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January Guest Column by Harriett Baldwin MP

5th February 2018

Happy New Year to all readers and thank you to everyone who worked hard or volunteered throughout the Christmas and New Year period, both in the public services and in the wider economy.

2017 saw some terrific progress on several long-standing campaigns - fairer funding for local schools, the Carrington Bridge, local rail investment, £29 million in capital for the local NHS and further Superfast broadband rollout. I will pushing for more progress on these in 2018.

Although seven new flood defence schemes have been developed locally in recent years, there remain two projects in Severn Stoke and Tenbury Wells, where work has been going on behind the scenes, and I will continue to call for more progress and will help to bring all interested parties together.

And as the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, now is the time to rededicate ourselves to its founding ideal: that good healthcare should be available to everyone, regardless of income. Locally, the NHS has just been given an extra £3.9 million funding to help cope with extra winter pressures and improve facilities at our local hospitals. And the anniversary is a welcome chance to celebrate the care and compassion of our wonderful NHS staff.

At the Budget, the Chancellor made an additional £15.3 billion for housing over the next five years and abolished stamp duty for first time buyers. The Government aims to help build the homes that our country needs so that everyone can afford a place to call their own or choose to downsize to the right sized property in old age is vital to Worcestershire's future.

Unemployment locally remains very low, and in 2018 we will be rolling out Universal Credit in the local area. This progressive change has cross party backing as it allows people to keep more of what they earn as they move into work and removes the 16 hour a week cliff edge, but it is important that the implementation goes smoothly, with applicants knowing that they can get help with budgeting, cash advances and switching housing payments direct to landlords on request. I will be organising a seminar nearer the date with local stakeholders.

Whether you voted Remain or Leave, we must now focus on getting the best possible negotiation outcome that enables free and frictionless trade with our European friends and neighbours.

So lots to do. Whatever your age or situation, if you live in West Worcestershire, please don't hesitate to contact me if I can ever help with anything.

Harriett says...

Harriett Baldwin
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