A considerable impact of the Pandemic has been the restrictions on people’s ability to go away on holiday this summer. This had led to a dramatic rise in those seeking to holidays in the UK with Cornwall being one of the number one destinations. We have seen perhaps one of the busiest summers on record with thousands of people coming down.
Thursday, 26 August 2021
Thursday, 12 August 2021
Over the course of the pandemic, our local schools have done an amazing job making sure that they could offer a safe environment when they were open. Timetables were adjusted to try to reduce the disruption of students moving between classes and ending up in crowded corridors, with some putting more time between lessons so that teachers could move from one class to another more easily to reduce the movements of students. However, this only lessened the impact that the pandemic had on young people and many have still struggled considerably.
The decision to close schools earlier this year did not just have the obvious effects around disruption to exams and teaching. It is much more profound than that. Children in both primary schools and secondary have been separated from friends. Children’s birthday parties couldn’t happen as they normally would and should. School sports events did not go forward. We, humans, are social creatures. Friendships and the company of others are important. Forming those bonds and friendships is a crucial part of growing up, whether it is in the formative early years as children start their first years as infants at primary school, or whether it is in those tricky teenage years as young people wrestle with all the insecurities and concerns that accompany that stage of life.
Given the impact that the last year has had on many young people in terms of welfare and their education, the Government has made every effort to ensure those who have fallen behind are able to catch up. An important element of this is the Government’s Education Recovery Plan, which is helping schools deliver long-term catch-up support, so every child can reach their full potential.
As part of our long-term education recovery plan, we will deliver six million, 15-hour tutoring courses, targeted at pupils most in need, and provide training and development for teachers. In the next stage of our plan, we are reviewing the impact of time spent in school and college on helping students catch up. We will also be investing a total of more than £3 billion in additional catchup support, so we can help every child who has fallen behind. Our new £1.4 billion packages of support builds on the £1 billion Covid Catchup Fund announced last year and the £700 million we are providing for an extensive catch-up programme, which includes a £302 million Recovery Premium to help schools bolster summer provision and support pupils most in need from September.
The government is clear that, as we return to normality and learn to live with Covid-19, we are going to have to pay special attention to help all those children and young people who have been affected by the lockdowns to get back on track. They are all going to need support to overcome the trauma of this episode and we will work hard to ensure that this support is there.
Thursday, 5 August 2021
In recent weeks, we have seen images of catastrophic flash flooding in Germany, Belgium, China, and India. Closer to home, Storm Evert caused substantial disruption in the Cornwall and the wider South West last week and, earlier this year, Storm Christoph caused significant damage to homes, businesses, and communities across the North of England. My thoughts are with all of those affected by these devastating events.
Climate change means more extreme weather, a higher risk of flooding events and coastal erosion. All too often, we are seeing households suffering repeated flooding – something this government is determined to tackle. Following our recent call for evidence to look at better protecting and better preparing our communities, we will be consulting this autumn on ways to strengthen the assessment of local circumstances when allocating funding. This will include looking at ways to ensure that our flood defence investment programme can further benefit frequently flooded communities.
We have already made progress. Between 2015 and March this year, the Government invested £2.6 billion into flood defences. This has led more than 300,000 home being better protected. In areas like the Calder Valley, this has made a huge difference. Areas that were damaged by previous bad weather were spared this year, thanks to this investment.
But there is more to do. Over the next six years, we are doubling the amount of money invested to £5.2 billion. Last week I announced that 1,000 flood schemes across England will receive over £860 million in 2021/22 for building conventional walls and embankments, improving flood water storage, and harnessing the power of nature to slow the flow of water and reduce risk.
More locally, this new funding includes further funds for both the Portreath Stream Flood Alleviation Scheme and the Copperhouse Gate Refurbishment in Hayle to help deliver each project. Over the years, Portreath has suffered particularly from flooding and storm damage to its sea defences and I welcome the news that the Environment Agency will be commencing work on the new alleviation scheme around September 2022 which aim to offer additional protection the residents impact by this flooding in the past.
Across Cornwall, the aim is to have an additional 275 extra homes given additional protection against flooding and costal erosion. This is all part of the governments wider Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment Plan for 2021 to 2027, which sets out how new flood and coastal schemes will better protect 336,000 properties by 2027, helping to avoid £32 billion in wider economic damages and reducing the national flood risk by up to 11 per cent. At a time when we are seeing more extreme weather both here in the UK and abroad it is vital that we continue to invest in these vital schemes.
These are just some of the steps we are taking in our comprehensive plans, all designed to give us the best chance of adapting to climate change. It is important that we act right across the system. We will sadly never save every home or business from the effects of flooding, but it is my sincere hope that many more can be protected in the years ahead.