Dominic Raab MP's March 2021 Newsletter View this email in your browser ([link removed])
Dom Raab MP's March 2021 Newsletter
Earlier this week, we marked one year since the first Coronavirus lockdown. I appreciate that the past 12 months have been tough, but they have also showed Elmbridge at its best – whether through residents’ strong community spirit, or the dedication of local healthcare workers. With the progress of the vaccination programme and the loosening of lockdown restrictions, there’s now a real sense of light at the end of the tunnel.
Elsewhere, there has been positive news for Elmbridge this month. The Home Secretary confirmed tough new measures to tackle unauthorised encampments, and the Department for Transport announced significant investment in Surrey’s roads. The Chancellor’s Budget also took steps to extend the economic support available to residents and businesses in the coming months.
This has also been a busy time in my role as Foreign Secretary. The government published a major review of the UK’s security, defence, development and foreign policy, while I announced new sanctions against Chinese and Syrian government figures.
Dom meeting pupils at Walton Oak Primary School.
On Tuesday this week, we marked one year since the first lockdown. The past 12 months have been tough for all of us, and my thoughts are with everyone who has lost a friend or loved one.
While this has been a difficult time, the pandemic has also shown Elmbridge at its best. Strong community spirit and the dedication of local NHS and care workers have helped us through the restrictions. I spoke to BBC Radio Surrey about this on Tuesday, and you can listen to my interview (from 1:16:30) here ([link removed]) . We can now see light at the end of the tunnel, with over 57,000 Elmbridge residents vaccinated, and the cautious loosening of lockdown restrictions (outlined below).
Away from Coronavirus, there have been a number of welcome announcements for Elmbridge this month. First, the Home Secretary announced significant new measures ([link removed]) to help the police tackle unauthorised encampments, creating a new criminal offence and strengthening existing police powers to tackle the problem. These measures will make a real difference to Elmbridge, where we've been affected by illegal incursions, so it’s good news that the legislation behind them is progressing through Parliament at the moment.
Second, it was encouraging to hear that Surrey will benefit from £25.7m of government funding ([link removed]) to maintain local roads and repair potholes in 2021/22. This includes £9.3m from the £2.5bn Potholes Fund announced in last year’s Budget. Finally, this year’s Budget ([link removed]) , outlined earlier this month, took important steps to protect businesses and jobs in Elmbridge. You can read more about this below.
For my part this month, I’ve been busy catching up with local groups, charities, and schools. I’ve supported ([link removed]) Claygate Primary School’s plans to renovate their swimming pool, joined ([link removed]) an assembly at Walton Oak Primary School, and spoken ([link removed]) to Elmbridge Community Link – a brilliant charity which enriches the lives of people with autism or learning difficulties.
This has been an important month at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), with the publication of the government’s “Integrated Review”. This review took an in-depth look at the UK’s security, defence, development and foreign policy, and describes the government’s vision for our role in the world over the next decade. After the review was published, I gave a speech at the Aspen Security Conference, setting out how Global Britain will act as a force for good in today’s world. You can watch the speech here ([link removed]) , and read the IR itself here ([link removed]) .
Elsewhere this month, I announced significant new measures under the UK’s autonomous sanctions regime. On the 10^th anniversary of the Syrian uprising, I introduced ([link removed]) a fresh round of targeted sanctions on the Assad regime, including on close allies of the dictator Bashar Al-Assad, to send a clear message that they must be held to account for their crimes. Next, I announced ([link removed]) the first UK sanctions against Chinese government officials, in response to gross human rights violations in Xinjiang.
I also had a number of important meetings with my counterparts overseas this month. I visited Estonia and Norway ([link removed]) for talks on climate change and the regional security threat posed by Russia, and attended a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels, discussing how the Alliance can adapt to tackle shared challenges.
Finally, in Parliament, I updated ([link removed]) MPs on the UK’s ongoing campaign to counter Daesh, and fielded questions ([link removed]) on all aspects of the FCDO’s work.
As residents will be aware, earlier this month we began the process of cautiously lifting the lockdown restrictions, following the government’s roadmap out of lockdown ([link removed]) . The rules will change again on Monday (29 March), to allow people to see more of each other outdoors. You can read comprehensive guidance on what you can and cannot do here ([link removed]) .
While this loosening of restrictions is welcome, I know that many local residents and businesses still need support. With that in mind, in the Budget earlier this month, the Chancellor set out measures to extend the support available. These measures included:
* Protecting jobs and livelihoods – The furlough and self-employment schemes, as well as the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit, were extended. The furlough scheme has protected at least 17,500 jobs in Elmbridge, while thousands have received grants through the self-employment scheme.
* Support for businesses – The business rates holiday has been extended until 30 June. There are also new cash grants available, and a new Recovery Loan Scheme. The 5% VAT rate on hospitality, accommodation and attractions has been extended until the end of September, with a 12.5% rate until April next year.
* Help for homebuyers – The Stamp Duty cut has been extended. The Stamp Duty threshold will remain at £500,000 until the end of June, saving local homebuyers £15,000.
These measures are good news for Elmbridge, supporting local businesses and continuing the protection for residents’ jobs and incomes. More detail about the announcements is available here ([link removed]) .
As ever, if you need any assistance in accessing any of the support available, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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