Dominic Raab MP's Newsletter - March 2022 View this email in your browser ([link removed])
Dom Raab MP's Newsletter - March 2022
Welcome to my March 2022 newsletter.
This month, we had an important update on the future of housing development in Elmbridge, with the Lib Dem-run Elmbridge Borough Council finally publishing its long-awaited draft Local Plan. I’ve outlined what this means for local communities and the Green Belt below.
Since my last newsletter, I’ve visited local schools, held a roundtable with businesses from across the constituency, and caught up with Surrey-wide radio station 107.8 Radio Jackie to talk discuss the important issues I’ve been campaigning on locally.
March also saw measures announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement to help address the rising cost of living. I explain the positive impact the Spring Statement will have on businesses and families in our area below.
At the Ministry of Justice, I have been focusing on measures to cut reoffending, to keep our communities and the public safe. I also set out measures to reform the parole system, which plays a crucial role in protecting the public and improving victims’ experience of the justice system.
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]
Protecting our Green Belt is my top priority
In a victory for local residents, the Lib Dem-run administration at Elmbridge Borough Council finally published a draft of their Local Plan for development this month.
This draft document - which is long overdue and has been delayed several times, most recently in January - sets out where new housing developments will be across our borough over the next 15 years.
Residents may remember that in 2019, 85% of people in Elmbridge agreed with proposals put forward by the (then) Conservative-led council which said that the Local Plan must not release any Green Belt land for development.
I am pleased to report that the spirit of our proposals has now been accepted and that appropriate protections will finally be put in place for our Green Belt. This will help to preserve the permanence of our green spaces and protect the character and natural beauty of Elmbridge for the future.
It has been a long road to get to this position. For years, our area has been without any plan for development, leaving our Green Belt sorely exposed to inappropriate housebuilding. Local Conservatives have been urging the council to get a grip on this issue, but I share the disappointment of residents that it has taken this long to see the beginnings of a Local Plan for Elmbridge.
In 2020, I worked with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure Elmbridge's housing targets did not rise to 774 from 623.
Now our area is being let down by repeated negligence on the part of the Lib Dem-led administration at the council. We need Elmbridge Borough Council to get the Plan finalised and into place as soon as possible. Every day without the Local Plan is another day that our green spaces remain at risk from repeated planning proposals.
Councillors unanimously voted through the Draft Local Plan on 22 March, voting 45-0 in favour. I hope that the current administration can work together to get the plan up and running and keep our Green Belt safe from development.
Meeting politics students at Hinchley Wood School
In other local news this month:
* Last week, I spoke with local Surrey radio station 107.8 Radio Jackie about the conflict in Ukraine, my work to protect the Green Belt in Elmbridge, plans to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and what I’ve been doing for communities in Esher and Walton. You can listen to the full interview here ([link removed]) .
During visits to St Mary’s Junior School and Hinchley Wood School, I spoke with students at primary and secondary school level about politics, current affairs, and important local issues.
* At St Mary’s, I heard from Year 4 class about their great campaign to reduce the speed limit outside the school, and spoke to Year 6 – or “Attenborough Class” - about their work on climate change, focusing on issues like single-use plastics and pollution.
* At Hinchley Wood School, I held a Q&A with politics students on a range of topics - from what it is like to be a local MP, to what the government is doing to reach Net Zero and how the political system works in the UK.
Hosting a roundtable with local SMEs
Finally, ahead of the Spring Statement, I met with local businesses at a roundtable organised by the Surrey branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
* I heard how local businesses are recovering from the disruption caused by the Omicron variant over the winter and took questions on topics including business rates relief and hiring apprentices.
In January, the government provided a further £1.3 million of support to help businesses worst affected by Omicron, bringing the total value of government grants for businesses Elmbridge to £48.7 million over the pandemic. Now, as we look to our recovery from the Covid-19, the government has set out a plan to help businesses and families with rising costs. More on this at the end of this month’s newsletter.
Elmbridge vaccination update:
111,294 residents have received 1 dose
106,194 residents have received 2 doses
87,648 residents have received a booster or third dose
(As of 31 March)
Meeting with ICC Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan QC at the Hague
In my role as Justice Secretary, as part of the government’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I’ve been working to unite an international coalition to support the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
* Last week, I chaired a meeting of ministers from around the world at The Hague, following a meeting with the ICC’s President, Registrar and Chief Prosecutor the week before.
* The UK is offering extra funding, personnel and expertise to support the ICC in holding Russians to account for war crimes.
Elsewhere, I have been focusing on reducing reoffending and keeping the public safe. This month:
* I set out vital reforms to the parole system, which plays a crucial role in protecting the public and improving victims’ experience of the justice system. Our reforms will ensure that public protection is the overriding priority in all parole board decisions. They also ensure ministerial scrutiny of decisions for the most serious criminals.
* I announced an expansion of the Employment Advisory Board programme, to help more offenders use their time in prison to gain the skills they need to find a stable job upon release.
* I opened HMP Five Wells – a new, Category C ‘smart’ prison in Northamptonshire - which is the first jail to be designed with education, training, and jobs for prisoners on release as its main purposes. The prison forms part of our commitment to create 20,000 modern, innovative prison places by the mid-2020s.
* I announced a major £440 million boost to victim support services over the next three years and published the first local criminal justice scorecards. These scorecards record information on the time taken for cases to be investigated, charged and for the case to be completed at court. The scorecards specifically highlight the criminal justice system’s response to rape and sexual violence – with the aim of driving a major increase in the number of prosecutions reaching court.
State of the Nation
How we’re supporting small businesses in Esher and Walton
This month, at the Spring Statement, the Chancellor outlined his Tax Plan – cutting taxes for businesses and families, supporting the most vulnerable, and creating the conditions for private sector-led growth.
* Fuel Duty has been cut by 5p per litre for the next 12 months, and the Basic Rate of Income Tax will be cut to 19p from 2024. The National Insurance Contributions (NICs) threshold will be increased to £12,570 in July, resulting in a NICs cut for 30 million people.
* The Household Support Fund – which helps councils including Elmbridge support vulnerable residents – will be doubled to £1 billion.
Businesses will benefit from immediate tax cuts and support with investment:
* A 50% business rates discount for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses worth up to £110,000 will be introduced next month, while employment taxes will be cut by raising the Employment Allowance to £5,000, and there will be two new ‘Help to Grow’ Schemes for businesses.
In other news,
* This week ([link removed]) , the government reaffirmed our commitment to supporting Ukraine. We are providing over £220 million in humanitarian support to help the people of Ukraine, supplying military equipment, and over 150,000 people in the UK have registered with the Homes for Ukraine Scheme ([link removed]) to help Ukrainian people fleeing the conflict.
* We have bolstered sanctions against Russia, sanctioning 16 major Russian banks and hundreds of individuals linked to the Putin regime. We have banned the entry of Russian vessels to all our ports and committed ([link removed]) to end imports of Russian oil by the end of this year.
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