Dominic Raab MP's November 2020 e-bulletin View this email in your browser ([link removed])
Dom Raab MP's November 2020 E-Bulletin
In light of the national Coronavirus restrictions in place, I’ve been doing a lot of my local work virtually this month. I had a good virtual Q&A session with residents a couple of weeks ago, for example, and have enjoyed catching up with local Residents Associations and joining a school assembly via Zoom.
Meanwhile, in my role as Foreign Secretary, I have been standing up for human rights in Hong Kong and Belarus, while keeping up my regular engagement and discussions with counterparts around the world.
As residents will know, there have also been important developments around the government’s approach to Coronavirus this month. Our COVID-19 Winter Plan sets out the steps that the government will take to help bring life back to normal by spring, and I have explained below what this means for Elmbridge. There was also good news for local priorities in this week’s Spending Review.
I will be taking a short break over Christmas and the New Year, so the next edition will be at the end of January. As always, you can contact me with any issues or concerns at domini[email protected]
Dom packing Christmas parcels with East Elmbridge Foodbank.
Locally this month, the national restrictions have meant that I’ve mostly been keeping in touch with residents virtually. First, I enjoyed chatting to residents and answering their questions during my latest Facebook Live Q&A session, which you can watch back here ([link removed]) . Next, I held a successful virtual meeting of my local Connect business club (with a guest appearance from the business minister Nadhim Zahawi) and joined a livestreamed assembly on internet safety at Thames Ditton Junior School. Finally, it was good to catch up with local Residents Associations over Zoom, discussing the forthcoming Elmbridge Local Plan and the government’s reforms to the planning system. You can read more about this on my blog here ([link removed]) .
The Coronavirus restrictions allow for volunteering, so I’ve also been getting out to help some key local charities in recent weeks. The East Elmbridge Foodbank is doing a great job in helping the most vulnerable in our communities, and last week I joined them to prepare parcels of Christmas food and essentials at Holy Trinity Church in Claygate. You can read more (including how to support the foodbank if you can), on my blog here ([link removed]) . Earlier today, I also spent some time volunteering with The Besom in Esher. You can read more about this here ([link removed]) .
In my role as Foreign Secretary this month, I took further action to stand up for the people of Hong Kong. China has imposed new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong, a decision that appears to be part of a concerted campaign to silence all critical voices. I declared China in breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration (the third time that China has breached the declaration since 1997), and worked with our Five Eyes allies to raise our concerns.
The Belarusian Ambassador was also summoned to the FCDO this month, as I took the decision to expel two Belarusian diplomats from the UK in response to the unjustified expulsion of British diplomats from Belarus, who were legitimately observing protests. The UK will continue to hold the Belarusian authorities to account for the rigged election in August and their ongoing use of violence to suppress the Belarusian people.
As ever, I’ve also been busy talking with my counterparts overseas this month – including the Prime Ministers of Ethiopia and Sudan, and the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, New Zealand and South Africa. On Monday, I returned from meeting with French and German counterparts in Berlin, where we discussed our cooperation on Coronavirus, climate change and Iran.
As residents may be aware, earlier this week the Prime Minister published the government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan. This plan, which you can read here ([link removed]) , sets out the end of national restrictions and the steps the government will take to help bring life back to normal by spring. The plan seeks to bring the ‘R’ level below 1, find new ways of managing the virus and enabling life to return closer to normal, and minimise damage to the economy and society.
The first key point about this plan is that England will move back into a three-tiered, regional set of restrictions after the current national restrictions end on 2 December. All of the tiers will be tougher than they were before, though non-essential retail will remain open and collective worship will resume in all tiers.
Surrey will be in tier 2, or “high alert”. This means that, from 2 December, you cannot socialise in any indoor setting with anyone that you don’t live with or who isn’t in your support bubble, and you must not socialise outside in a group of more than six people. There is more information about this available here ([link removed]) . Which tier Surrey is in will be reviewed every 14 days, based on the following five criteria, until the tiers expire in law at the end of March:
* Case rates in all age groups;
* Case rates in the over 60s;
* The rate at which cases are rising or falling;
* The number of cases as a percentage of tests taken;
* Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.
Second, the COVID-19 Winter Plan confirmed that the government was working with the devolved administrations to design a time-limited change to the social restrictions over Christmas. On Tuesday evening, it was announced that up to three households will be able to meet indoors between 23 and 27 December. While we will still not be able to celebrate Christmas in an entirely normal way, I know that this will still be welcome news for many local families.
Finally, the plan explains how life can begin to return closer to normal. We are making progress on mass testing and will roll this out to 13 million people before Christmas. We have also secured access to 355 million vaccine does, with the NHS gearing up to lead a national vaccination programme. As these two elements – mass testing and vaccines – are rolled out through winter and into the spring, the need for even localised restrictions will gradually reduce. This offers light at the end of the tunnel.
In another important development this week, on Wednesday the Chancellor outlined the government’s spending plans for the next financial year (2021/22). Key announcements included:
* Schools – The Chancellor confirmed that the schools budget will increase by £2.2 billion next year. You can read about what this means for local schools here ([link removed]) .
* Policing – Across England and Wales, police forces will see a £400 million funding boost next year, enabling the recruitment of 6,000 more officers.
* NHS and social care – The NHS will see a £6.3 billion funding boost next year, on top of a dedicated £3 billion to help it recover from the pandemic and more money for new diagnostic equipment. On social care, this year’s £1 billion grant, divided between local authorities, will be provided again next year and complemented by an extra £300 million.
As ever, I will be ensuring that these announcements translate into real improvements locally. You can read more about the announcements in the Spending Review here ([link removed]) .
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