Dominic Raab MP's February 2022 e-bulletin View this email in your browser ([link removed])
Dom Raab MP's February 2022 E-Bulletin
Welcome to my February 2022 newsletter.
It’s great to open this month’s newsletter with some positive news. Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced the end of legal Covid restrictions, as part of the Living with Covid Plan. I’ve outlined what this means for local residents below.
In local news, I’ve been visiting some of our excellent schools in Elmbridge throughout the month and joining forces with Surrey Police to see how they are keeping our neighbourhoods safe from crime.
At the Ministry of Justice, my focus remains on reducing reoffending and cutting crime to keep the public safe. More on this, and our progress in reducing the backlog in our Crown Courts caused by Coronavirus, below.
Finally, I’m pleased to reveal the winner of my Apprentice of the Year Competition for Esher and Walton in this month’s email.
As ever, if you are a constituent and require my assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at domini[email protected]
Backing our local police
Joining police out on patrol in Elmbridge
On Friday, I accompanied Surrey Police on patrol to see first-hand how they are keeping our area safe.
Thanks to the efforts of Inspector Bert Dean and officers across the borough, reports of crime have been falling in recent years. Surrey Police’s current priorities include reducing anti-social behaviour, tackling burglaries, and increasing the police presence to make our streets safer for everyone, especially women and girls. I am grateful to Inspector Dean's team for demonstrating how the police are working to achieve these aims.
Earlier in February, Parliament voted to secure a new police funding settlement worth an extra £1.1 billion to police forces across the country, providing our police with the backing they need to tackle crime.
Surrey Police will receive an extra £13.3 million for the year from this settlement, allowing for 104 extra police officers to be recruited this year - adding to the 114 that have already joined in the past two years as part of the government’s drive to recruit 20,000 new police officers ([link removed]) .
I hope residents will join me in welcoming every new officer to the force.
Supporting local schools
Meeting the team at Three Rivers Academy
Before the half term break, I was invited to join ([link removed]) the staff at Three Rivers Academy in Walton-on-Thames.
I met with the new Principal, Barbara Mayaire, and Executive Principal Anne-Louise Payne. On a tour of the school’s facilities, it was valuable to see how well the pupils are doing and to thank staff for their work in keeping our schools open safely during the pandemic.
The government has now spent a total of £4.9 billion on catch-up funding to recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic, ensuring students of all ages don’t miss out on vital parts of their education. Primary schools will continue to benefit from an additional £145 per pupil - with the amount for secondary schools nearly doubling – to help fund vital resources and additional learning hours.
Across the many local schools I have visited so far this year ([link removed]) , I have always been very impressed by the innovative and stimulating ways that our brilliant local teachers are making school fun and enjoyable for pupils - helping to deliver the best possible quality of teaching across Esher and Walton. Thanks to all the staff and pupils for showing me around.
Apprentice of the Year
Finally, residents will remember that I launched my local Apprentice of the Year ([link removed]) competition in January to mark the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week.
I am pleased to announce that Ana Dumitru from Haig-Brown opticians in Esher is the winner! Colleagues have described Ana – who is studying for an optical assistant level 1 course – as “relentlessly cheerful”, and that patients always appreciate her positive attitude. I’m looking forward to meeting Ana to congratulate her in person soon.
Elmbridge vaccination update:
111,111 residents have received 1 dose
104,833 residents have received 2 doses
86,068 residents have received a booster or third dose
(As of 28 February)
Visiting HMP Prescoed and Cilwrgi farm, South Wales
In my role as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, during National Apprenticeship Week this month, I announced ([link removed]) that, for the first time, apprenticeships will be offered to prisoners to help fill skills shortages and to improve their chances of gaining employment after leaving prison.
Helping prisoners to access new skills and qualifications that they don’t currently have will be key in reducing reoffending and cutting crime in the long run, helping to protect our communities. Reoffending costs taxpayers an estimated £18 billion a year.
Polling shows that 9-in-10 businesses that hire ex-offenders say that they are reliable, good at their job, punctual and trustworthy.
The change in the law will apply to offenders in lower-security, open prisons and allow them to apply for apprenticeship opportunities in sectors such as hospitality and construction.
Next, as part of our wider drive to rehabilitate offenders, I announced that sixteen prisons across the country are to be expanded ([link removed]) with new houseblocks and refurbishments. This is part of the government’s £3.7 billion investment to create 20,000 more prison places.
New designs and expanded learning facilities will help prisoners access support such as healthcare and give offenders the chance to gain vital skills and training to help them find a job and stay out of prison upon release.
This month also saw the publication of figures showing that the Crown Court backlog has fallen for the fourth consecutive month ([link removed]) . This is thanks to measures including the provision of ‘Nightingale’ courts during the pandemic, removing the limit on Crown Court sitting days, and new technology to make Court proceedings more efficient.
On 21 February, the Prime Minister set out our plans ([link removed]) to end the legal restrictions that have been in place to protect us throughout the pandemic:
* This started with the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test, which ended from Thursday 24 February. People who test positive are now advised to stay home for 5 full days and avoid contact with others.
* This advice will remain in place until 1 April. After that, government will advise people on how take and to be careful and considerate of others, similar to advice on other infectious diseases.
You can read the full announcement here ([link removed]) .
We are in this position because levels of immunity are high, and deaths are low. This is thanks to the impressive vaccine rollout, which has seen almost 140 million doses given across the UK in total, 302,000 of these in Elmbridge.
Further boosters will be offered to all adults aged over 75, all residents in care homes for older adults, and all over 12s who are immunosuppressed in the spring. More details to follow.
Data released this month also shows the economy is going from strength to strength as we recover from COVID-19. The UK economy grew 7.5% in 2021 - the strongest growth since the Second World War.
Finally, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the war initiated by President Putin, the UK is backing Ukraine with defensive weapons, humanitarian aid and economic support. We were the first European nation to send defensive weapons to Ukraine, with more being sent from RAF Brize Norton over the weekend.
We are also providing substantial economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine to help the Ukrainian people, through £100 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and guarantees covering $500 million in development bank loans.
Through our economic sanctions against Russia – the largest sanction package in our history - we are going even further. Key Russian banks will be kicked out of the SWIFT international payment system, preventing their access to international finance. Direct sanctions have been issued against President Putin and the oligarchs that support him, freezing their assets and preventing travel to the UK.
Russia’s defence industry has also been sanctioned to help slow the advance of military forces into Ukraine, and new powers have been created to prevent Russian banks from clearing assets in sterling, all while banning exports to Russia in a range of critical sectors.
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