Neighbouring Suffolk MPs joined forces to raise their collective concerns around the wider rollout of Universal Credit here in Suffolk later this year.
The Westminster Hall debate, secured by Stephen Lloyd, MP, was an opportunity for Members to examine the effect of Universal Credit on the Private Rented Sector and in taking an intervention to his speech, Mr Lloyd took the opportunity to welcome Dr Poulter upon his return to Parliament.
Recognising that the Government has already demonstrated that it is listening and adapting to feedback around Universal Credit as part of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement in November 2017, Dr Dan Poulter, and Member of Parliament for Waveney, Mr Peter Aldous, took the opportunity to ask that as the wider rollout of Universal Credit progresses, the Government continues to listen to feedback and to make changes to assist those who may be struggling with the transition, as well as for new claimants. Also in attendance at the debate was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Caroline Dinenage MP - both Dr Poulter and Mr Aldous were broadly reassured by the Minister's comments, whilst recognising that there still remains some work to do before full implementation of the new system.
Speaking immediately after the debate, Dr Dan said "With some one in five households being in the private rental sector it is vital that we do all we can to ensure a smooth transition during the implementation of Universal Credit. Currently some landlords in the private rental sector are fearful of offering tenancies to those in receipt of benefits, but there can also be a tendency to be cautious when considering those on low incomes, for fear that they too may find themselves in need of benefits. There is still work to be done, but I am reassured that the Government is listening."
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said "The full rollout of Universal Credit in Lowestoft commenced in May 2016 and significant problems were encountered including delays in rental payments. The position as a result of collaborative working between Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice and local landlords has improved and the changes announced in the November Budget were very welcome."
There is still work to be done to address the ongoing concerns of the private rental sector and this debate was helpful in highlighting these. Dr Dan and Mr Aldous will continue to work with local organisations, bringing their concerns to the attention of Government so as to ensure that Universal Credit achieves its goals.
Dr Dan Poulter was today pleased to support neighbouring Suffolk MP, Peter Aldous as he introduced his Ten Minute Rule bill to the House of Commons concerning the ring fencing of cash retentions for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the construction industry.
Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) revealed that over a 3-year period £7.8bn worth of retentions was outstanding for small businesses. Cash retentions are withheld as security in case a firm fails to return to rectify non-compliant work. However the monies are primarily withheld to bolster the working capital of the party withholding them. Furthermore the practice gives rise to widespread abuse with the monies being withheld for three and more years.
If successul, this Bill would secure and release on time these retentions by way of a deposit scheme.
Here in Suffolk, and across the UK, SMEs are the backbone of our economy and Dr Dan was pleased to work with Mr Aldous to hopefully bring about this change in legislation, which will ensure greater support and protection for small businesses in the construction industry.
The bill passed its first reading stage and will now have its second reading on Friday 27th April 2018.
Ahead of a busy advice bureau in Kesgrave, Dr Dan enjoyed a visit to Roundabout Day Nursery where he met the team and a number of children who were enjoying their day's activities at the nursery.
Dr Dan was impressed with the range of facilities on offer at Roundabout and following the tour, he spent time with the proprietors and team.
Dr Dan was pleased to visit Inspire Suffolk, a charity working to help young people in Suffolk overcome challenges and to take positive steps into further training and/or employment.
The charity works to support young people with new skills, activities and team building and Dr Dan was very impressed to learn more about the hard work and achievements of Inspire Suffolk.
He looks forward to a return visit soon.
Dr Dan is delighted that a bid he supported for funding to improve the A140 near Eye Airfield has been successful and will bring £3.75 million from the Department for Transport.
Dr Dan was pleased to support Suffolk County Council's bid to the Department for Transport and thanks to this Government funding, much needed road safety improvements for all those living and working in the area will now be forthcoming. The funding will also provide a welcome boost to local businesses operating nearby, who are currently hampered by lengthy delays entering and leaving their business premises.
Mid Suffolk Business Park, located adjacent to the former site of Eye Airfield, plays host to a number of haulage and light industrial businesses who have been attracted to the area by the strong transport and infrastructure links, with the A140 being a key route. Not only is the road the key route between Ipswich and Norwich, but it also carries through traffic from the Midlands and from the Port of Felixstowe, linking directly with the A14.
Many businesses have reported concerns about access to and from their business bases on the Industrial Park, with lengthy queues and delays entering and exiting the area. The main access into the Industrial Park is via an incredibly busy junction and the flow of traffic is all too regularly slowed or halted by vehicles attempting to enter or leave the site, creating the further risk of accidents or diminished road safety,
For some time now, Dr Dan has been working closely with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Suffolk County Council to push for improvements to the A140, a vital economic route for the region, to ensure that Suffolk's road infrastructure is fit for purpose and serves to bolster Suffolk's economic potential.
Aside from access to and from the Industrial Park being difficult, there are also a number of concerns around accidents at the site with a number of road traffic collisions being previously recorded. It is felt by many that the development of a roundabout at this site would significantly help to improve the flow of traffic and reduce the risk of further accidents.
Following a busy advice bureau in Mendlesham, Dr Dan chaired a meeting for residents affected by the ongoing disruption caused by HGVs on Town Lane Wetheringsett, with around 150 people attending the meeting.
The meeting brought together representatives from Mid Suffolk District Council, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Constabulary in a bid to find a multi-agency solution to end the misery caused to residents. A number of outcomes were discussed at the meeting and Dr Dan is following these up individually with the respective authorities.
Dr Dan remains committed to helping the residents and is hopeful that a solution can soon be found.
Dr Dan was delighted to take part in BBC Politics East programme presented by Amelia Reynolds and joined by Kelvin Hopkins, Labour MP for Luton North.
Following a visit to Stradbroke High School, Dr Dan was pleased to visit Stradbroke Primary School where he met with the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team, before going on to a lively Question and Answer session with a group of pupils.
The pupils were all too keen to put their questions to Dr Dan, who was thoroughly impressed with the time they had taken to research and think in advance about their ideas, given the wide range of questions which they put to Dr Dan on the day.
It's always encouraging to see younger students so engaged with politics, especially coming up with their own ideas and putting forward their own views. Visits such as these are important in strengthening the link between what Dr Dan does as an MP locally and how he can make sure that the voice of our communities here in Suffolk are heard in Parliament.
Starting off a busy day in Suffolk, Dr Dan was delighted to be invited along to a special assembly, where he spoke with a number of students about their chosen career paths.
Dr Dan was the guest speaker at the careers assembly, where he spoke with students about careers in both healthcare and politics.
There were a number of questions from the floor, from both staff and students alike, with many asking about the correlation between Dr Dan's role as a practicing NHS doctor and as a Member of Parliament.
Dr Dan looks forward to a return visit to the school and to perhaps meeting some of the students wishing to visit Parliament as a result of the assembly.
Following a busy day of meetings at Suffolk County Council's headquarters, Dr Dan enjoyed a visit to Barking Hall Residential Home, where he very much enjoyed meeting staff and residents.
Dr Dan enjoyed a tour of the impressive facilities before taking time to meet with a number of residents, and enjoying some traditional team word games and sampling the afternoon tea. Dr Dan very much enjoyed meeting and talking to so many residents and listening to how much they enjoy the range of opportunities and events that the team at Barking Hall regularly put on.
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King’s College Hospital (16 Jan 2018)
Daniel Poulter: My hon. Friend makes a fair point, although it is difficult for a board that has effectively had a merger foisted on it to appreciate fully how a hospital will run across two sites—or even three sites, with Orpington as well. I am sure the Minister will go away and think about that in the context of the PFI and whether something more could be done to help with the PFI debt.
King’s College Hospital (16 Jan 2018)
Daniel Poulter: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I draw your attention and that of Members to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. It is probably worth pointing out, too, that I had the pleasure of being a medical student at King’s many years ago. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) on securing...