From Helen Whately <[email protected]>
Subject Recovery Drive
Date September 27, 2021 9:21 AM
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Your regular update on my work for Faversham and Mid Kent

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** Recovery Drive

Along with schools going back this month, September also saw the return of MPs to Westminster.

Like workplaces across the country, Parliament is beginning to look and feel more like normal with more MPs allowed in the Commons and more face-to-face meetings.

There are signs of our recovery across the economy with the employment rate back to where it was before Covid, wages rising, and the UK having the fastest growth in the G7.

We had to take difficult decisions during the pandemic, and tough decisions are needed again to help the NHS and social care recover from the last 18 months. That's why we're introducing our Health and Care Levy (#health) to beat the backlogs in the NHS and deliver reform of social care..

It’s not just in health and social care that we're determined to build back better. I’ve been meeting local businesses (#business) to hear how Government support for jobs is helping our local economy recover from the pandemic.

As part of my new job as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (#new job) I'll be working hard to boost growth and jobs as we recover from the pandemic. I’m determined to see our plans to level up the economy benefit communities across the country, including in Faversham and Mid Kent.

Extra investment has helped deliver record numbers of police officers (#police) in Kent, and I’ve set out my vision for a better local bus network (#buses) as part of a £5 billion funding boost for bus and cycle links across the country.

The risks from Covid have not gone away. We face a difficult few months ahead, but our vaccine rollout has given us cause for optimism. And our Autumn and Winter Plan ([link removed]) will help protect the gains we've made.

** Record investment in
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Alongside the Chancellor and Prime Minister for our announcement on health and social care funding

We’re investing £36 billion in health and social care over the next 3 years – giving people peace of mind that they won't face catastrophic care costs.

Our new Health and Care Levy ([link removed]) will kickstart reform of social care - making life better for those who need care now, unpaid carers, care workers & all of us who may need care in the future.

Social care is nothing without its staff, so at least £500 million of this funding will go into training, career opportunities and staff wellbeing.

It was a huge privilege to serve as Care Minister during the past 18 months. It’s been the hardest of times yet now social care reform is happening and we’re on track for 50,000 more NHS nurses.
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Showing my support for #BackBritishFarming Day earlier this month with NFU President, Minette Batters

** Local Plan shake up leaves residents in limbo

I’ve called for answers from Swale Borough Council on what changes to the Local Plan process will mean for local residents.

The Council has now said that they will be adding an additional stage to the Local Plan process after having previously given local people very little say on the proposals.

While I welcome the Council’s decision to engage more with residents, there are many unanswered questions about this new process, which I've set out in a letter ([link removed]) to the Council's Chief Executive.

I’m concerned that what the Council is proposing could be even more confusing and won’t solve inherent problems with the current Local Plan proposals.

** Growing our way out of the pandemic
On a visit to MEP Ltd to hear how apprenticeships are helping the business to grow

are crucial to our recovery from Covid as I've seen first hand on some recent visits.

I discussed skills and apprenticeships on visits this month to MEP Ltd and Capital Cleaning Supplies in Aylesford. It was great to hear that both have been using Government schemes like Kickstart and incentives for apprenticeships, helping to create opportunities for young people.

Over a year ago the Government launched our Plan for Jobs, ([link removed]) and this month we’ve seen signs that it’s working with unemployment falling and our economy recovering quickly.

It’s so important that we have the right skills to go with the new jobs being created. Last month £50 million was announced to deliver world-class facilities for T Level students.

** to lead recovery from Covid
Getting to grips with my new job in the Treasury

I’m delighted to have been appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury as part of the Prime Minister's reshuffle.

As Exchequer Secretary I’ll be working hard to deliver economic growth, more jobs with better pay, and higher productivity – helping to raise living standards for everyone.

I’ll also be helping to deliver our commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve our net zero targets.

I’m looking forward to working with businesses across the country to build back better from the pandemic. Our focus on jobs and better infrastructure will help deliver a recovery that benefits everyone, including here in Faversham and Mid Kent.
Tougher laws ([link removed]) on pet theft will help put an end to these horrid crimes

** Record numbers of in Kent

There are now 3,971 police officers across Kent helping to keep us safe.

This is 242 more officers since September 2019, and 184 more officers than in 2010. There has also been an increase in Police Community Support Officers.

I’m continuing to work with our local police and councils to help tackle crime in known trouble spots to keep communities across Faversham and Mid Kent safe.

In addition to extra police officers, our new Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill will give police the powers they need to tackle crimes more effectively and help make our streets safer.

** Lower Thames Crossing latest
Work on a new road tunnel under the Thames could start next year

In my latest consultation response ([link removed]) to the Lower Thames Crossing I've called for investment across the road network in Kent.

Plans for a new road tunnel under the Thames near Gravesend could bring benefits to people in Faversham and Mid Kent, but only if the project is combined with investment across the wider road network.

Junctions including M2/J7 at Brenley Corner, and the A249 and the A229 need improving to avoid traffic problems at Dartford simply being shifted to other parts of the road network.

I’m pleased KCC is getting £500,000 to fund immediate upgrade work ([link removed]) to our local road network – including fixing potholes and improving traffic lights systems.
I met some of the team at Alzheimer's Research UK in Parliament as part of Alzheimer's month

** Commitment to Afghan people endures

Like many people, I’ve been shocked by the recent events taking place in Afghanistan.

I’ve also been profoundly impressed by the dedication and courage of our armed forces and diplomats who’ve helped to evacuate over 15,000 people from Afghanistan since the middle of August.

Like many MPs, I’ve been supporting constituents with friends and family trying to leave Afghanistan. Our Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme will provide a safe and legal route to this country for some of those most at risk.

The task of resettlement is well underway, and Operation Warm Welcome ([link removed]) will help everyone to play their part. The Government has also committed extra funding to support local councils with housing costs.

** Getting investment in our water network

I’ve called on Southern Water to set out a clear plan for improving the water network in Faversham and Mid Kent.

Like many people, I was extremely concerned by the flooding over the summer and the closure of local beaches for swimming because of sewage ending up in the sea.

I’m pleased the Government will be tightening the law ([link removed]) around permitted sewage discharges as part of our Environment Bill. But it’s clear we also need greater investment from water companies.

In my letter to Southern Water ([link removed]) , I’ve called for the water treatment works in Faversham and other problem spots to get the investment they need.
On a visit to Capital Cleaning, hearing how the Kickstart scheme is helping the company to expand

** Better lorry parking needed more than ever

It's clear we need to fix the shortage of lorry parking once and for all.

I know the shortage of lorry drivers across Europe is a huge concern to many local businesses. It has highlighted the need for better conditions for drivers – including safe places to park and access services.

I've written to the Roads Minister to call for more lorry parking capacity in Kent and other parts of the country.

Better parking is not just needed to support the welfare of lorry drivers but also to stop lorry fly-parking in our lanes and laybys, which can be incredibly dangerous.

** A plan for better

As part of efforts to build back better from the pandemic, I've set out the improvements our local bus service needs.

In my response ([link removed]) to Kent County Council's consultation on their Bus Service Improvement Plan, I’ve called for a focus on the rural bus network along with better integration of bus timetables with the rest of the transport network in Kent.

I’m determined to get Kent its fair share of the £5 billion the Government is investing in bus and cycle links across the country.

Last month saw the introduction of the X3 and X4 ([link removed]) bus routes which are providing new direct services between Canterbury, Faversham, Sittingbourne and Maidstone - something I have been calling for.
After a great sporting summer for Britain, I'm pleased our preparations for the next Olympics are getting a funding boost

Please remember to keep yourself and others safe. Latest coronavirus guidance can be found here ([link removed])

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