Rory Stewart meets Penrith resident benefiting from energy advice and draught proofing
Penrith and Border MP, Rory Stewart visited Penrith householder, Vida Scott to see
how she has benefited from free draught proofing and tariff advice arranged by local
charity Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS).
Andrew Northcott of CAfS demonstrated the professionally fitted energy saving
improvements and how they help reduce heat loss and can save over £100 on bills,
as well as reduce carbon emissions. Mrs Scott’s home is one of over 180 homes that
have benefited across Eden District as part of a Big Lottery Funded project called
Front and back doors had seals fitted and a special letter box cover was installed to
keep out cold draughts. An electricity monitor was also included.
Mrs Scott was very pleased with the service from CAfS and said the draught proofing
had “…made a big difference in keeping my home warm”. Rory Stewart commented
“We’re fortunate having local charity CAfS here doing so much to help vulnerable
people improve their living conditions and reduce costs.”
During the visit the team at CAfS also helped Mrs Scott by checking her energy tariff
and found a massive saving by switching from a standard tariff with Eon to one of the
smaller suppliers. Andrew said “Mrs Scott spends a large proportion of her income
on fuel and as she heats her home with electricity the savings by switching are
significant. For many people heating with electricity the yearly savings can exceed
£500 and can be sorted by telephone to a comparison company.”
Rory Stewart said: “I have wanted to see an example of CAFS’ draught proofing
programme for some time, and was glad to be able to visit Mrs Scott on King Street
to see the technology in action. It’s great that such a relatively straightforward and
simple measure can have such positive effects, and without impacting on the
extraordinary built heritage of a house like this. CAfS are doing brilliant work at
making a tangible difference to households in the area, as well as advocating for
sustainable, environmentally solutions that work.”
CAfS are now setting up a network of Energy Champions who can help vulnerable
people to get warmer and bring environmental benefits and reduces fuel bills. Energy
Champions would spend about two hours a month to talk with people locally,
including helping individuals on a one to one basis. No specific skills or knowledge of
household energy is required, though experience dealing with household energy bills
would certainly help. This opportunity would ideally suit someone who is already, or
would like to be, active in their community. Anyone wanting more information can call
CAfS on 01768 210276 or e-mail office@ cafs.org.uk.
Every schoolchild in England will have the chance to visit our inspiring National Parks at each stage of their education under plans announced today by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss—as new figures reveal only 10% of schoolchildren currently have access to outdoor learning.
The new Plan for National Parks kickstarts a programme of activity to safeguard the future of these iconic landscapes, including by engaging young people throughout their education:
•from primary school, bringing more than 80,000 young people to visit National Parks and putting National Parks in the curriculum;
•at secondary school, doubling the number of youth volunteers in National Parks as part of the National Citizen Service;
•in their first steps to employment, developing a new apprenticeship standard and doubling apprenticeships in National Parks by 2020.
With over half of the population in England living within an hour of a National Park, the plan aims to increase the diversity of visitors from the UK—as well as promoting these world-class cultural attractions to a global audience through the GREAT campaign to drive international tourism. The Environment Secretary aims to build annual visitor numbers to 100 million, bringing around £440 million more to local businesses, adding to the £4 billion already generated by National Parks.
Speaking as she launched the new plan in the South Downs National Park, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
“National Parks already welcome over 90 million visitors every year and make a major contribution to our vibrant rural economy—but too many children in our country are not aware of these natural wonders. I want to celebrate our inspiring natural environment so more visitors than ever before can enjoy the majestic Lakes, tranquil Northumberland, and the wide open spaces of the South Downs.
“Just as Yellowstone is known worldwide as one of America’s national treasures, our beautiful lakes and dales, moors and fells are a symbol of this country, part of our British identity—they are also huge public assets that should benefit as many people as possible.
“By instilling a love of nature in our young people and building thriving communities in every National Park, our plan will allow these unique spaces to flourish for generations to come.”
The Government protected National Parks’ budgets in the last spending review, committing over £350 million for English National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and forests. The new plan will further secure the future of these iconic protected landscapes, ensuring effective environmental management and growing a strong rural economy.
Along with work already underway to give schools in England one million native British trees to plant in their communities, National Parks will be a key part of a new Government campaign later this year to connect children with nature and the environment.
The plan also aims to harness the power of the natural environment to improve national wellbeing, after research published last month by Natural England showed taking part in nature-based activities can contribute to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression. It recommended greater use of ‘green care’ to help people suffering from mental ill health, including taking part in environmental conservation—for example, through innovative schemes in National Parks.
Jim Bailey, Chair of National Parks England said:
“Our National Parks are the jewels in the crown of our beautiful countryside and something to be very proud of. They are living, working landscapes that need careful stewardship, for the benefit and enjoyment by all. I look forward to working with the Government on delivering this exciting Plan for England’s National Parks.”
Margaret Paren, Chair of South Downs National Park, where the Environment Secretary launched the plan this morning, said:
“The South Downs National Park shows the wealth of resources on offer from our national parks—available for free to everyone—for teaching, local food and drink, and visiting and enjoying the great outdoors. We sit right on the doorstep of more than 800 schools across Sussex and Hampshire and are already supporting teachers to use the landscapes and past and current thriving communities of the South Downs National Park to inspire and help 74,000 pupils across the entire curriculum to reconnect with nature.”
The Government recently committed a package of support for the Lake District National Park after it was hit by recent floods, including £2m to repair rights of way and a new £1m campaign to show that the North of England is open for business and entice tourists back to the area. Tourism is the biggest sector in the UK’s rural economy, supporting three million jobs and generating £11bn every year for local communities.
As well as dramatic scenery and stunning views, visitors to the National Parks can enjoy the best of British food, with over a third of England’s diverse range of protected foods produced within National Parks—including Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese and Lakeland Herdwick Lamb. Promoting these foods and encouraging more producers to apply for this coveted status also forms part of the strategy to ensure our National Parks continue to thrive in the future.
Rory Stewart MP has visited Eden Flood Volunteers’ temporary base at Skirsgill, near Penrith, to meet with volunteers and to see first-hand the work that Kerryanne Wilde and her team have been doing since Storm Desmond first devastated local households in December 2015.
Rory spent time talking to Kerryanne and her team of volunteers, hearing about the extent of their work, and the number of households reached by the group in the aftermath of the floods, coordinating large numbers of donated items which were then distributed to needy households. Thousands of pounds’ worth of items have been distributed by the group, including sofas, food, furniture items and household goods.
Rory said: “Kerryanne and her team have done a great job in the wake of Storm Desmond and the devastation wreaked by the bad weather at the end of last year. Eden Flood Volunteers are clearly a dedicated group of people who made a real difference to people’s lives after the terrible floods. I congratulate them on their energy and dedication.”
Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement, delivered this afternoon. In it, George Osborne set out details of further action the Government will take to keep Britain on the road to economic recovery.
The Chancellor unveiled a number of key measures to sustain growth. Measures that will be of particular benefit to Cumbrians include; a rise in the tax free personal allowance to £11,500 and the higher rate threshold increased to £45,000, a freeze on fuel duty for the sixth year running, as well as a freeze on beer and cider duty to back British pubs, £20 million a year of new funding for schools in the Northern Powerhouse to improve performance and retain the best teachers, and the introduction of a new Lifetime ISA with a limit of £20,000 – with which for every £4 saved, the government will contribute £1. In addition, he also pledged to support small businesses by creating a more simple, fair and competitive business tax system, with an increased small business rate relief threshold of £15,000, and £51,000 for those paying the higher rate. There will also be a cut in capital gains tax, corporation tax and stamp duty, and Class 2 National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed will be abolished.
There was yet more good news for Cumbria with the announcement of further investment in UK flood defences. The standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax will be increased by 0.5%, and the £700 million raised from this will be used to improve flood resilience and defences in areas affected by the recent storms. An urgent review is already underway by Environment Secretary Liz Truss and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to determine how the money will be best spent. It was also revealed that the vital A66 and A69 routes will be upgraded to improve Cumbria’s infrastructure as part of the Northen Powerhouse project.
Speaking on the budget, Rory Stewart said: “The Chancellor has again shown that this government’s policy of greater fiscal responsibility is the right one, and we are now seeing a growth in our economy and a reduction in the budget deficit. I am absolutely delighted at the announcement of an extra £700 million for flood defences. And particularly delighted at the commitment of extra money for Carlisle and Cumbria. Communities have performed heroically during the recent floods, and it is only right that we do all we can to improve flood defences further across the County. I am also pleased to see further help pledged for small businesses, which will contribute to Cumbria’s own economic recovery – helping those affected by the floods to get back on their feet. As always, more needs to be done, but overall I believe that this budget has recognised the key issues we are currently facing in Cumbria and I feel positive about our economic future.”
Rory Stewart MP is encouraging sole traders to take advantage of the Small Business Rate Relief available from Eden District Council. For more details, please visit the Business Rates section of the Council’s website at www.eden.gov.uk.
Rory Stewart MP has written to both Sir Neil McKay of the NHS Success
Regime for Cumbria and to Department of Health Minister Ben Gummer, to
request an urgent meeting to discuss his unequivocal backing of his
constituency’s community hospitals. His involvement follows the
release of documents relating to the Success Regime, and wording
relating to the future of Cumbria’s community hospitals.
Today Rory said: “Many of the suggested recommendations relating to
addressing remote healthcare, and ageing demographics, are very
welcome. However I am deeply concerned about the perceived threat to
our cottage hospitals, which I shall be supporting in the strongest
possible terms. Our so-called ‘cottage’ hospitals are treasured,
locally, as an absolutely critical pillar of community healthcare. And
I believe very strongly that these hospitals have a greater role to
play in delivering healthcare in this part of Cumbria, rather than a
reduced role, and I can see no advantage in reducing their scope or
centralising services elsewhere. We have shown, in the past years,
that local services can be retained even in a challenging financial
context. We have preserved services from community ambulances, to
snowploughs, to cinemas, to fire-engines. Arguably none of these are
as precious as our community hospitals, though, and I resolve to fight
any threat to our beloved community hospitals, in no uncertain terms.”
Following a long-running campaign in which he has lobbied government
to adopt a fairer funding formula for rural schools, Rory Stewart MP –
who is also Minister for Rural Affairs in DEFRA, and a champion for
rural-proofing of government policy – has hailed today’s news of a
consultation into fairer school-funding as a “significant
Proposals outlined today by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for
Education, aim to provide a basic amount of cash per pupil, additional
money for extra needs, including deprivation, low prior attainment and
English as an additional language. Importantly, funding will also be
allocated based on school costs, including schools serving rural
communities. The present system can see a school in one part of the
country receive much more money than another elsewhere, despite having
the same number of pupils.
Rory Stewart said: “This is a significant breakthrough, recognised
today by the Prime Minister himself as a great result. The argument
for fair funding has been an incredibly important one in Penrith and
The Border, and indeed in Cumbria, where we have seen schools right
across the county making sensible and justifiable cases for a formula
that recognises our unique needs. This is not simply about what
happens in the classroom. Our rural schools are cores of our
community: children and young families bring life to our villages. We
have lost far too many rural schools over the last decades. And
schools with very few students are always in a tight financial
situation. I feel the government’s move shows flexibility and
imagination, and is a good sign that they are listening to rural
In addition, it is proposed that all schools are set to receive their
money directly, rather than via the local authority.
Commenting on the proposals, Secretary of State Nicky Morgan said: “We
want every school in England to get the funding it deserves, so that
all children – whatever their background and wherever they live in the
country – get a great education. The introduction of a national
funding formula from 2017-18 will see the biggest step towards fairer
funding in over a decade – ensuring that pupils get funding that
genuinely matches their need. It will also ensure that pupils from
disadvantaged backgrounds continue to receive significant additional
funding to overcome entrenched barriers to their success. This is a
key part of our core mission to extend opportunity to all children and
provide educational excellence in all parts of the country: rural and
urban, shire and metropolitan, north and south.”
Rory Stewart MP joined in with the historic national effort ‘Clean for the Queen’ litter pick this past weekend in London’s Earls Court. As Environment Minister within DEFRA, and an active campaigner for the tidy-up efforts, Rory was thrilled to join local MPs; The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s (RBKC) Head of Waste and Street Enforcement, Matthew Lawrence; RBKC Council Leader, Nick Paget-Brown; and Clean for the Queen campaign backer, McDonalds.
Litter is an ongoing problem in the UK, costing almost £1billion to tidy-up each year. Rory said: “It was a great honour to be part of such a united community effort to combat this growing problem. The nation ‘Clean for the Queen’ campaign for 2016 was the biggest-ever community clean up effort in a grand celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday, which I wholeheartedly support.”
Rory hopes that the enormous success of this campaign, combined with inspired continuing action against litter, will lead to lasting tidiness in the UK’s many and valued parks, streets, and wildlife areas.