Today marks the start of summer recess for MPs. Those with kids in schools will be raising an eyebrow – as a parent I know the summer holidays always feel far too long!
However, recesses are good opportunities for MPs to make the most of time in their constituencies – and I also have plenty to get on with in the Treasury.
I do, though, find the pause in House of Commons work is a good moment to reflect on the progress that has been made over the previous few months – both nationally and locally.
Over the past few months, it was encouraging to see the Bank of England, the OBR, the IMF, and the OECD all majorly upgrading our forecasted economic growth. It is not just these important institutions that have given us votes of confidence but also companies have announced large investments in the UK.
A new company launched by Renault and Geely will have its headquarters in the UK – investing £6 billion and employing about 19,000 workers.
OpenAI announced a few weeks ago they will open their first overseas office in the UK and Salesforce pledged $4 billion into AI innovation, customer success, and growth in the UK over the next five years – two huge boosts to our tech sector which is already the third largest in the world.
My Mansion House Reforms are also designed to ensure our most innovative companies stay and grow in the UK, supported by our world-leading financial services sector.
I am acutely aware, though, that families and many individuals are feeling the pressure of the cost of living at the moment. Regarding mortgage rates, it is great that 90 per cent of lenders have now signed up to our Mortgage Charter, which provides support to those affected by high interest rates.
But tackling inflation remains my absolute priority as it is currently the biggest strain on family finances.
We will continue to target support at the most vulnerable and to support our most vital public services – not least through the NHS’s Long Term Workforce Plan. This was a particularly proud moment for me as it was something I had long campaigned for and will make a big difference to the NHS over the next 15 years – with 60,000 more doctors and 170,000 more nurses.
Of course, I have my local campaigns too. Having run two London Marathons, I also took part in the Farnham Bike Ride and now the overall amount raised for the new Cancer and Surgical Innovation Centre at the Royal Surrey is over £360,000. The new centre will treat 7,000 more patients a year, which is 28 more each day, and I am so grateful to everyone who has donated so far.
The Green Spaces campaign has made good progress with a visit from the secretary of state for the environment, Thérèse Coffey, who came to see for herself the amazing views of the Surrey Hills AONB.
The consultation on the proposed extension to the AONB boundaries has now closed but received over 1,500 responses. Now to wait for their decision and then try to get national park status…
There is always more work to be done. Like many I was disappointed Waverley Borough Council made the decision to terminate their long lease on The Edge Sports Centre in Haslemere. It is a hammer blow for the many voluntary sports organisations that use the facility and will cost Waverley council taxpayers £1m to £2m in dilapidation payments – far more than any money saved – so there is no financial logic either. I sincerely hope Waverley change their mind, which they can still do.
My team and I will be taking some time over summer to plan how to continue to raise funds for the cancer centre and how to protect our local countryside.
So there has been solid progress on many fronts but I have my summer homework set for me – both locally and nationally! Here’s hoping for some good weather to get through it…