Blogs > John Glen Salisbury MP Diary

John Glen Salisbury MP Diary

Houses of Parliament

29th July 2020

29th July 2020

Parliament is now in recess for the summer break but my work as a constituency MP and a minister in the Treasury does not stop during August!

This week, as well as my regular surgery meetings, there is a heavy focus on the telecoms sector in my diary – with some great news stories to take part in - both in Salisbury and in rural areas.

I was in Bowerchalke on Wednesday (29th July) for a meeting with local tech entrepreneur James Body and his team for an update on the MONeH Consortium’s 5G trial in the Chalke Valley.

Back in February, the government awarded them £2.4m to set up a trial based on small cell technology to boost connectivity in rural areas. I am hopeful that they successfully pioneer a new way of approaching this problem and provide a template, which can be rolled out in other parts of South Wiltshire in due course.

Then on Saturday (1st August), I will be delighted to host Openreach CEO Clive Selley in Salisbury for some activities to mark the successful completion of the full fibre 1Gbps rollout across the city.

With all the infrastructure now in place and in the ground, we need to make sure that more homes and businesses are connected to take advantage of Salisbury being the first full fibre city in the UK.

I know that, for a small minority of you, reading this will be a little bittersweet, given it has not been possible to connect every home in the constituency to the Full Fibre rollout and rural areas outside the Chalke Valley will not get 5G at this stage. 

However, I can assure you that the government understands the importance of getting everyone fast and reliable connectivity to the internet – especially as more people are likely to work from home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are investing £5bn to go as far as we possibly can to get gigabit broadband in as many locations as possible by 2025. 

Posted by John Glen at 1:11pm

22nd July 2020

22nd July 2020

This week brought the welcome news of above inflation pay rises for 900,000 public sector workers – many of them for the third year in a row.

At the height of the pandemic, we all applauded NHS workers and carers, and I know from my postbag throughout the crisis that a lot of people will heartily welcome the confirmation of an average 4.4 per cent pay rise for nurses.

At the same time, more than one million NHS workers will continue to benefit from the three-year Agenda for Change pay deal under which the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse has already increased 12 per cent since 2018.

But this week’s announcement also acknowledges that medics were not the only ones who worked tirelessly to keep us going through the darkest days of COVID-19 in the spring.

Many more public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and rose to the challenge when we needed them most.

Teachers, police officers and the armed forces will all receive above inflation pay rises, at the same time as their numbers are increasing – with 3,000 of an additional 20,000 police officers recruited and a 30 per cent increase in the number of new military recruits in the past year.

The pandemic has cost the world economy dear but rewarding public sector workers as they continue to keep us safe and look after those who need it is not a luxury.

Of course, we are still conscious that public sector pay awards must deliver value for money for the taxpayer. The Chancellor has launched the Comprehensive Spending Review outlining that, in the interest of fairness, public sector pay levels must retain parity with the private sector, whose role in our recovery will be no less vital.

I am pleased that in April, as planned, we went ahead with increasing the minimum wage to benefit the lowest paid in all sectors and raised the National Insurance threshold, equating to a £100 saving for 31 million workers.

Parliament’s summer recess starts this week. I will be spending it in Salisbury, where I will be following government advice to ‘eat out to help out’ in our restaurants and supporting as many local shops and businesses as I can, as our traders work hard to attract customers back.

Posted by John Glen at 9:23am

15th July 2020

15th July 2020

I have spent much of the week busy in The Treasury taking meetings and engaging with stakeholders following last week’s significant statement by The Chancellor, setting out an unprecedented new raft of interventions in the economy to support and promote recovery.

At the start of the crisis, the priority was to provide for those industries and individuals who were unable to work.

Now, with coronavirus case numbers in decline and sectors reopening, we are in a new phase. Accordingly, the next step is to support and incentivise people who are getting back to work and adapting to different ways of doing things.

Millions of jobs and livelihoods have been safeguarded by the furlough scheme. Now, with three and a half months to go on the original scheme, it is time to safeguard those jobs in the long term by rewarding employers who keep previously furloughed staff in work into the new year.

The plan prioritises creating quality jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds, alongside new funding for apprenticeships and traineeships. 

It also means investing in infrastructure and decarbonisation projects which will produce long-term economic benefits for the country as well as creating jobs and apprenticeships straight away.

There was a boost for the housing market, with a stamp duty holiday and increase in the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 ​for first time buyers.

There is help for the hard-hit hospitality industry with a VAT cut and ‘eat out to help out’ government-funded discounts to encourage people to return to their local restaurants and cafes.

I have been gratified by the number of emails I have received in the past week from constituents expressing relief and gratitude for the support on offer.

But it is not lost on the government that, even as the economy reopens and most employers try to do the right thing, significant challenges remain.

For those whose job is not yet secure or whose business is still on an uncertain footing, the Chancellor has been very clear that the choices that have been made so far are not a matter of ideology. We will step in again and do whatever is necessary to get the economy back on track.

There will be more to come in the Budget and spending review in the autumn and I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues to bolster the economy wherever it is needed.

Meanwhile, I await a packed - almost normal - diary of constituency meetings on Friday. The hand sanitiser is at the ready and I look forward to seeing everyone!

Posted by John Glen at 11:05am

8th July 2020

8th July 2020

Although I have been doing constituency casework and talking to people online throughout lockdown, the time is right to cautiously return to normality.

Accordingly, I have stocked up on cleaning products for the office and taken my first socially distanced meetings.

I am grateful to the small group of constituents who came in on Friday for a lively and stimulating discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement.

They shared some powerful stories of outright ugly racism – bullying behaviour that all right-thinking people can agree is repugnant.

I firmly believe that most Salisbury people sincerely mean to treat everyone with the same kindness and respect. But what I will take away from the discussion are the many experiences of more subtle manifestations of racial bias.

What is being called for is not just simple agreement that discrimination on grounds of race is wrong - but a renewed awareness that racism takes many forms and an openness to interrogate unconscious prejudice in ourselves and others.

I have been working hard this week with The Chancellor on yesterday’s statement – a bold ‘reset’ of the economy and a series of interventions that build on the unprecedented levels of support we have given to business and individuals in recent months.

We are backing the economy to bounce back and demonstrating that we will do whatever is necessary to help it do so as quickly and as strongly as possible.

Speaking of unprecedented measures, the past week also saw the announcement of the single largest investment ever made in arts and culture in this country.

The £1.57bn package will support the sector to survive and flourish, as well as permitting the restarting of all capital and restoration projects put on hold by the lockdown.

Heritage and the arts are central to the economic and social life of Salisbury and I know that a lot of constituents have been fearful of the future for our beloved arts institutions.

Having moved to the Treasury from the role of Arts Minister, I am particularly pleased to see such generous recognition of the importance to the whole country of a vibrant creative economy.

I look forward to the release of more details of what is on offer and I will be putting in a positive word for Salisbury at every opportunity!

Posted by John Glen at 10:51am

1st July 2020

1st July 2020

Although issues related to Covid-19 dominate, the normal business of government goes on, and we continue to work towards delivering on important pledges – not least our commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

This week, I was delighted to advance the Green Finance initiative that we have been developing in  the Treasury for many months.

The aim is to create incentives to facilitate investment in green technology and alternative energy, making the UK a great place to innovate in both financial services and the low carbon economy.

I was able to build on the existing green finance strategy by announcing the first ever green finance education charter, asking financial services to commit to adopting climate goals, while putting ethical green finance at the heart of what they do.

Launch day happened to coincide with this year’s mass climate change lobby of parliament, The Time is Now.

This time last year, Westminster was absolutely heaving, as thousands of people from all over the country came to London to meet with their MPs in person. I remember battling my way onto the bridge and struggling to hear and be heard by my hardy constituents in all the hubbub.

This year’s event was, fittingly, a considerably more environmentally friendly affair – a Zoom call with constituents involved with a range of organisations including the RSPB and Friends of the Earth.

While accepting – as I always have – that climate change is a real threat and we must leave no stone unturned in our efforts to green our economy, I am pleased that the UK remains in the vanguard of international efforts to tackle climate change.

We are already reducing our emissions at the fastest rate in the G20 and we are at the forefront of international efforts to build a global consensus.

Of course, lockdown has caused a lot of people to pause and think about the way the country does business. Adapting to home working has put us in a powerful position to permanently reassess what are necessary and unnecessary journeys. I hope some companies can carry lockdown lessons forward to reduce their overheads and environmental impact.

Many people have also been enjoying the quieter roads and cleaner air and have rediscovered their love of walking and cycling in recent weeks and that is another very positive thing to build on. It gives us a chance to refocus on a long-standing goal – improving the air quality in Salisbury city centre.

Wiltshire Council are working hard to consider the implications and opportunities of a £2bn boost in government funding and support for cycling and green transport and I look forward to some ambitious proposals. 

Posted by John Glen at 11:23am

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