Our country has a long and proud history of helping others in their hour of need, and the reaction of the British people to the Homes for Ukraine scheme says everything you need to know about what a kind, generous, outward-looking country 21st century Britain is. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those across Uxbridge and South Ruislip who have signed up to be a sponsor to the scheme or indeed supported the people of Ukraine in other ways including offering financial support. With every day that Ukraine's heroic resistance continues, it is clear that Putin has made a catastrophic mistake.
Of course, the steps we’ve taken in recent weeks to sanction Russia are not cost free for us here at home. With rising energy prices and inflation, I know that many families across Hillingdon will be feeling a squeeze on their household costs. I would like to assure you the Government is listening – and taking action to help those who need it most where we can. 80,000 households across the borough will soon be supported with a £150 non-repayable cash rebate on their Council Tax and later this year, every home in the UK will also benefit from a £200 rebate on their energy bills. In response to rising prices at the pumps, we have also cut fuel duty by 5p a litre. Together with the existing fuel duty freeze, this will save car drivers £100, van drivers £200, and HGV drivers £1,500 this year. As well as this cut to fuel duty, from July we are also raising the National Insurance personal threshold to £12,570, the largest increase in a starting personal tax threshold in British history.
Our fantastic social care staff have been at the front line of the fight against Covid throughout the pandemic, providing vital care to some of the most vulnerable in our community. Following the lifting of visiting restrictions in care homes, I was delighted to pay a visit to Parkfield House Nursing Home in Uxbridge to personally thank the staff for all their efforts and talk with some of the residents. I was particularly impressed by the home’s ‘Portrait of Parkfield’ initiative which has seen residents working with local schools, libraries, and Hillingdon Council, to produce portraits, poetry and photographs, ahead of an exhibition at the Civic Centre.
We have over 1.65 million people working in adult social care. That’s more than the NHS, or the construction, transport, or food and drink service industries. Those already working in care are doing an amazing job, but as the population grows, and the way care is delivered evolves and diversifies, we will need more people to join them. The number of jobs in adult social care is forecast to grow by almost one-third by 2035 and the Government is investing at least £500 million over the next 3 years transform the way we support the social care workforce. So, if you’re looking for meaningful work where you can make a real difference to people’s lives every day, I would urge readers to consider a career in care.
Our phenomenal vaccination programme has saved countless lives and built a wall of defence which has allowed us to learn to live with Covid – but we must protect this success and top up people’s protection. I am therefore delighted that we are now in a position to offer a Spring booster jab to residents of care homes, people who are 75 and over and those who are immunosuppressed aged 12 and over. I would urge all local residents who are eligible to take up the offer as soon as you are contacted by the NHS.