At the conclusion of the party conference season, Damian has said that the package of measures is a good one for the local area. Among the specifics he highlighted:
- seed-funding to Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to bring forward plans to improve services for patients at hospitals such as Basingstoke and Winchester, which will be of particular benefit to residents in Alton, Fours Marks and the surrounding villages, many of whom use these hospitals.
- £5 billion for the rollout of gigabit broadband - though Damian notes that for many in areas like ours, any kind of fast broadband would be welcome - he will be seeking clarity on how in practical terms the new initiative can benefit households and businesses in East Hampshire
- Plans to improve the planning process, making it easier for new homes to be built, is particularly welcome in East Hants, given our high house price to wage ratio.
The most significant announcement of all - though it got perhaps less attention - was the planned change to the National Living Wage, with a new target to reach two thirds of median earnings over the next five years and extending it to all workers from the age of 21. This means that the NLW is forecast to be £10.50 by 2024, benefiting more than 4 million workers.
The party conference policy initiatives follow government announcements recently made on increased funding for the local NHS and schools and the Hampshire Constabulary.
"Party conferences are always an occasion for new things to be unveiled, and this year has been no exception. They are also times for wider policy discussion on the 'conference fringe', away from the set-piece of parliamentary debate. Climate Change has been prominent among fringe events at this year's Conservative conference, as I know it was also at the Labour party conference, and I know is a big priority for many people and multiple groups in East Hants.
“I was pleased to be able to take part in WWF’s roundtable with policy makers, businesses, academics and experts, on how and where we need to go further in pursuit of net zero emissions, and also for the opportunity to discuss air quality issues at a session organised by the British Lung Foundation. I also welcome the policy announcements on the new Future Homes Standard, and support for battery technology development."