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Richmond Park News: 24 June 2022

I was delighted to hear this morning that Richard Foord, the Liberal Democrat candidate in yesterday's by-election in Tiverton and Honiton, is to be their new Member of Parliament. I very much look forward to welcoming my new colleague to the House of Commons.


Last month the Chancellor announced additional support for those on benefits to help with the cost of living crisis. Households on means-tested benefits will receive £650 which will be paid in two instalments in July and October. Recipients of non-means tested disability benefits will receive a one-off payment of £150 in September. Although these payments are welcome, I do not believe that the measures go far enough. I was pleased to be able to raise my concerns in a debate in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Liberal Democrats have been calling for a cut in VAT from 20% to 17.5%, which would put £600 back into pockets, support struggling businesses, boost the economy and help curb spiralling inflation. You can view a clip of me raising this point here.

I am also concerned that key vulnerable groups will miss out on the additional payments. Those claiming Carer’s Allowance are excluded from the list of eligible benefit-recipients. This leaves hundreds of thousands of unpaid carers without desperately needed financial support. In the debate, I called on the Government to do more to support our unpaid carers. Click here to view a clip of this contribution.

I also took the opportunity in this debate to once again raise the issue of social housing tenants across the constituency whose homes fall into council tax band E and F, and who therefore missed out on the previous council tax rebate. I am pleased to see that the Government has now moved to a fairer method of targeting support by using the social security system as opposed to council tax banding. But I am disappointed that they have failed to respond to my letter on the issue of council tax banding. You can view a clip of this point being raised here.


Network Rail and South Western Railway have issued a further request this week, asking residents to avoid travelling by rail, if at all, possible until Sunday. There will be continue to be severe disruption across the network with no trains running before 7:30 am until Monday 27th July.

I am very sorry to hear of the disruption that constituents have experienced this week as a result of industrial action across the railways. I strongly believe that this dispute can be resolved through continued and measured negotiation, which requires that all sides are brought to the table. Last week, I discovered that the Department for Transport had not met with the RMT Union for over a month. I subsequently wrote to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, to ask for an explanation as to what steps the Government have taken to avoid industrial action. You can read a copy of this letter here.

I am especially concerned about the impact of strikes on critical industries such as healthcare and education. Following a statement that Grant Shapps gave to Parliament regarding the strikes on Monday, I asked if he could tell us what conversations he has held with the NHS and education leaders to understand what the Department can do to support staff to get to work, and for children to attend exams.

I truly hope all sides will come to a resolution quickly and get London moving again. You can find more information on the strikes with this