Rural Related Politics - An RSN weekly review

The Week Ahead
House of Commons

Tuesday 27 February, The Department for Energy and Net Zero Security will be taking oral questions.

Monday 4 March, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be taking oral questions.

House of Lords:

Thursday 29 February, The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford will be leading the Grand Committee Debate.  This is a short debate on plans to promote a long-term national housing strategy with cross party support for its delivery.

Select and Joint Committees

Wednesday 28 February, The Transport Committee will question the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, in a regular scrutiny session of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) work on rail services and infrastructure.

Wednesday 28 February, The Energy Security and Net Zero Committee will be hearing Oral evidence in the Heating Our Homes Inquiry.

Insights from Last Week

- The Department of Health and Social Care responded to a written question from Liz Twist MP the Shadow Minister for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government.  Her question was: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether she has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of people impacted by flooding.

The response was:

The Department has responded to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s inquiry into rural mental health. Further information on the inquiry is available at the following link:
https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1627/rural-mental-health

It is important that the right support is in place, including for those affected by flooding. NHS England has clinical guidelines on dealing with major incidents, including on providing psychosocial support for both patients and staff.

Talking therapies are available remotely so people can access help safely from home and the National Health Service is working to ensure the option of face-to-face support is provided to people with serious mental health illnesses, across all ages where it is clinically safe to do so.

The UK Health Security Agency has published flooding and health guidance to provide information to assist health professionals and public agencies to understand and mitigate the mental health risks posed by flooding. It is available at the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/flooding-health-guidance-and-advice

- An Early Day Motion on Bus Services was tabled on 21 February. At present, the motion has been signed by 6 Members. The motion has a particular focus on Rural Bus Services. The full motion text can be found here

- Julia Lopez, The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology was asked what assessment she has made of the adequacy of rural broadband coverage.

This was answered on 23 February:  

According to Ofcom’s December 2023 Connected Nations report, only 0.2% of properties are unable to get decent broadband coverage (defined as at least 10Mbps download speed and 1Mbps upload speed), with 88% of rural UK residential properties having superfast broadband coverage.

The Government is committed to improving broadband coverage in rural areas, with gigabit broadband coverage delivered through the £5 billion Project Gigabit which will deliver cutting edge connectivity for millions or rural homes, with alternative connectivity solutions being investigated for very hard to reach premises.

For those premises still unable to get a decent broadband connection, the Broadband USO provides consumers the right to request a broadband connection if their current connection falls below 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

There are several questions regarding rural issues awaiting answer.  We will report on these in the bulletin as and when they are answered.

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