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Rural Services Network
On Wednesday 24, MPs debated local government and social care funding. Dr Caroline Johnson MP emphasised to the House that services are much more costly to deliver in rural areas.
On Thursday 25, the Lords Committee on Intergeneration Fairness and Provision released its report calling on the Government to take steps to support younger people into the housing and employment market. Key recommendations from the report included: phasing out free TV licenses based on age and potentially subsidising them based on household income, that free bus passes and Winter Fuel Payment should only be available five years after a person becomes eligible for the State Pension, and better off workers over the State Pension age should pay National Insurance while they continue to work. On training and skills the Committee said that in the context of a 100-year life, continuous training and retraining will become more important. Older people need to be equipped and supported to respond to a changing labour market.
Elsewhere on Thursday, MPs debated the sustainability of the Post Office network. MPs noted that to avoid the term ‘closures’ many Post Offices are being downgraded and moved to WHSmith branches. Several MPs noted the impact on rural communities but in particular Patricia Gibson MP highlighted the effect on rural businesses.
On Saturday 27, the Lords Rural Economy Committee released its final report. Key proposals from the report include a coherent rural strategy, re-energised rural proofing and place-based approach. It noted: ‘…successive governments have underrated the contribution rural economies can make to the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing. They have applied policies which were largely devised for urban and suburban economies, and which are often inappropriate for rural England. This must change. With rural England at a point of major transition, a different approach is urgently needed.’
On Monday 29, the Public Accounts Committee will hold an oral evidence session on ‘planning and the broken housing market’ with representatives from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology for Sustainable Food and Farming meets to discuss the future of country farms in England, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Great South West also meets.
On Tuesday 30, MPs debate the provision of local healthcare in the East Midlands. Elsewhere, the Economic Affairs Committee hears evidence on social care funding in England.
On Wednesday 1 May, MPs will debate district council finances before discussing the effect on landowners of the proposed England Coastal Path. Elsewhere, the Transport Committee hears evidence as part of its inquiry into active travel. The Education Committee hears evidence on opportunity areas around England.
On Thursday 2, voters around the country will decide the future of 8,200 council seats. In the Commons, there will be a short adjournment debate on the case for building a new town in Essex. In the Lords, members will discuss the impact of rural crime on farming communities.
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