Dominic Raab MP's October 2020 e-bulletin View this email in your browser ([link removed])
Dom Raab MP's October 2020 E-Bulletin
Locally this month, I’ve been visiting high street businesses across Elmbridge, checking in and making sure they know what support is available under the “high” COVID alert level. I also visited an innovative local ‘edtech’ business and had a useful meeting with South Western Railway.
In my role as Foreign Secretary, I returned from a successful visit to South Korea and Vietnam, and announced that the UK, alongside our international partners, is sanctioning those responsible for the criminal poisoning of the leading Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
While Coronavirus remains a real challenge, we’ve also seen some positive economic data this month. Retail sales, for example, grew for the fifth consecutive month in September and are now higher than they were before Coronavirus. This is backed up by the government's new measures to support the economy.
Dom visiting Surrey Hills Butchers in Oxshott.
Locally this month, I’ve been checking in with high street businesses across Elmbridge, in Walton (Central ([link removed]) and South ([link removed]) ), Cobham ([link removed]) , Oxshott ([link removed]) and Stoke d’Abernon. All of the business owners I’ve spoken to have shown great resolve in recent months, innovating and adapting to the new conditions.
Many local businesses have already accessed government support, but I know that the new “high” COVID alert level in Elmbridge may present new challenges. This is why the Chancellor announced a package of new support ([link removed]) last week. I would encourage local businesses to take a close look at what is available, and local residents to support them if you can. As ever, there is information and advice on the Coronavirus page ([link removed]) on my website.
It was also great to visit sQuidcard, a local ‘edtech’ (educational technology) business in Thames Ditton, a couple of weeks ago. sQuidcard’s technology facilitates digital payments between parents and schools in the UK, and provides an online learning programme in Kenya. You can read more about my visit here ([link removed]) .
Finally, I met up with Mark Hopwood, South Western Railway’s Interim Managing Director, at Walton Station. He gave me a useful update on their plans for local rail services post-Coronavirus. It’s good news that a new footbridge, with a lift, will be built over the tracks next year. This will make moving between platforms a lot easier for disabled and elderly residents. You can read more about this on my blog here ([link removed]) .
At the beginning of this month, I returned to the UK from a successful trip to South Korea and Vietnam. This was a good opportunity to speak to my counterparts about trade, security and climate change, as well as taking forward the UK’s bid for ‘Dialogue Partner’ status at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It also demonstrated the renewed importance we place towards the Indo-Pacific region now we have left the EU - given the region's trajectory, and the opportunities it offers for British businesses and jobs.
This month has also seen the UK, together with our international partners, sanction those responsible for the criminal poisoning of the leading Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. This followed the UK and our partners agreeing that there is no plausible explanation for Mr Navalny’s poisoning other than Russian involvement and responsibility.
In the House of Commons, my ministerial team and I took questions on all aspects of the government’s foreign policy - from Brexit to the situation in the Middle East. You can read the exchanges here ([link removed]) .
I also kept up my frequent meetings and conversations with my counterparts around the world, hosting the Indonesian Foreign Minister (where I discussed trade opportunities and climate change) and the Iraqi Prime Minister (with whom I discussed security in Iraq and regional stability).
While Coronavirus remains a real challenge, there has been some positive economic data this month. Retail sales grew for the fifth consecutive month in September and are now higher than in February. In August, the economy grew for the fourth consecutive month. This good news is backed up by the government's continued support for livelihoods and the economy as a whole.
Just last week, the Chancellor set out a new package of economic measures which will help businesses and individuals in Elmbridge. First, certain businesses in "high" alert areas, like Elmbridge, will be able to claim new cash grants, worth up to £2,100 per month. Elmbridge Borough Council, which will be distributing the grants, is providing updates on its website here ([link removed]) .
Next, the Chancellor announced changes to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which begins in November. Through the JSS, the government contributes to the wages of employees who are working fewer hours than normal. The scheme has been made more generous, with the government contributing more to employees' wages, and employers contributing less. This is designed to help businesses which have not been forced to close, but are seeing lower demand. I know that this has been the case for some of the local businesses I have spoken to (particularly due to the "high" alert restrictions), so this change will help them to keep on their staff. There is more information on this available here ([link removed]) .
Finally, there has also been some good consumer news this month. Ofcom, the communications regulator, has announced that mobile networks will be banned from selling ‘locked’ phones (which make it difficult to switch networks) from December 2021. This will make it far easier for residents to save money by switching networks.
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