Parliament has now risen for the summer which means I will be spending more time in our constituency, getting out and about trying to meet as many people and businesses as possible in the next few weeks, as well as spending time with my family.
Although Parliament has now risen, last week was a busy one. First up I met with the new Housing and Planning Minister, Marcus Jones, to make the case for further action to address the housing crisis in Cornwall.
The meeting, held at the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, was an opportunity to ensure the new Minister understands the current challenges facing us here in Mid Cornwall and listens to the case for reforms to the planning system.
Housing, especially its availability and affordability for local people, continues to be one of the top issues that is raised with me by residents in the constituency, so I was keen to feed this back to the new Minister. It is important he is aware of the particular pressures we face, as well as proposals for what we need to do to improve the situation.
The Government’s new Planning and Regeneration Bill is currently passing through Parliament and provides an opportunity to take steps to ensure more housing is available to local people in the future.
In the meantime, the Government is running a consultation on the impact of short-term holiday lets on communities in tourism hotspots like Cornwall to help us understand the scale of this problem and take appropriate steps to alleviate it, such as introducing a register for short term holiday accommodation or further reforms to the planning system such as requiring change of use planning permission to convert to a holiday let.
However, it is important to remember that there are no quick and easy answers for the current housing issues we are facing, but we do need to take steps to ensure we are never in this situation again and I was pleased that the Minister listened to my concerns.
I will continue to do all I can to work with my Cornish MP colleagues, Cornwall Council and the Government to implement sensible and practical steps to ensure local people can access the housing they need.
Last week I also had the opportunity to visit St Austell Jobcentre and see the fantastic work that the staff are doing to support local people back into employment. This followed a very interesting and positive visit to Newquay Jobcentre a couple of weeks ago.
This tied in with the recently released employment figures for St Austell and Newquay, which are excellent and really demonstrate how the hard work of the DWP staff in St Austell and Newquay Jobcentres is making a difference.
The figures for Universal Credit published by the Office of National Statistics show that in June 2022 there were 1,895 actual claimants in St Austell and Newquay constituency, which was 3.0% of the population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 3.7%. There were 250 claimants aged 18-24, which was 3.5% of the population aged 18-24. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 4.3%.
Over the past year the number of claimants has fallen by 1,340 in our constituency, and the numbers of people in St Austell and Newquay claiming Universal Credit are also lower now than in March 2020 before the pandemic.
This is good news and thanks to all at the Department for Work and Pensions who work hard supporting people back into employment. It was also great to meet with some employers to talk about the innovative ways in which they are working with St Austell Jobcentre to get new staff.
I want to end this week’s column by talking about one of the highlights over the past year, which has been the return of local schools from Cornwall to Parliament. It’s always a pleasure to meet with pupils and last week I met with children from Penrice Academy in St Austell and spoke to them. Tours and visits haven’t been able to take place for a number of years due to covid, so it is great to be able to welcome them back.
Anyone who would like to book a tour of Parliament can do so via the website here: www.parliament.uk/visiting/ or contact my office and we will try to arrange it for you.
If I can be of any further assistance, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance – tel. 01726 829379, email – email@example.com