Monday 14 February 2022
I know that many local residents are concerned about the impact that rising prices are having on their household budget. In particular we all face the prospect of significant increases in the costs of heating our home. I along with many other Members of Parliament have been asking the government what more we can do to help people to manage these costs. I was pleased to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has responded with a £9billion package of new measures worth up to £350 per household. This includes a non-repayable £150 cash rebate for homes in Council Tax bands A-D – which is equivalent to 80 per cent of all households, helping both lower and middle-income families. In addition to this there will be a £200 ‘smoothing’ rebate on energy bills for all households, to help spread the impact of rising prices this year over the next five years. Households will receive the £200 payment this year which will be repaid over the next five years at £40 per year, starting from April 2023. Across the country, local councils will have access to a total of £144million in discretionary funding to support households who need help but may not be eligible for the council tax rebate. The government has also announced that it will increase the value of the winter Warm Home Discount and extend the eligibility for people to claim it by one-third to 3 million vulnerable households. This discount will now be worth £150 per household. These measures will help 42,354 households across Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh
I was pleased to receive correspondence from the Treasury this week confirming that discounted 'red' diesel can continue to be used in vehicles and machinery for purposes related to agriculture, forestry, and horticulture. This will also now include flood risk management works to protect agricultural land on Romney Marsh. For centuries the cutting back of reeds to keep the drainage ditches on the Marsh clear and open has been vital for managing the drainage of water from the surface into the sea. Having collaborated closely with the Romney Marsh Area Internal Drainage Board after they raised the matter with me last year, and subsequently meeting with other Kent MPs and Helen Whately MP, the Exchequer to the Treasury, to advocate for this change in government policy, this is an important success. In practical terms, this means that the vital work carried out by the unsung heroes at our local drainage board can continue without the unnecessary costs and burden that using conventional fuel would have had on their mission to keep our communities safe from flooding.
Now in its eleventh year, the Folkestone Coastal 10-kilometre race will be taking place on Sunday 29th May, with a separate children’s race also being organised. With a relatively flat route that makes use of our constituency’s beautiful coastal scenery, the run is ideal both for those who have recently purchased their first pair of running shoes and for more established runners aiming for a personal best. Last year, runners raised a magnificent £62,000 for good causes, many of them directly benefiting charities in the Folkestone and Hythe area. With limited places available, make sure you sign up soon at www.folkestonecoastal10k.co.uk. I wish everyone brave enough to take part the best of luck!