Funding for Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health Services

I recently raised the issue of children’s and young people’s mental health services with the Minister. She sets out in her letter increased spending.  It is important that this money is used wisely to purchase improved service:

Dear Sir John,

Thank you for your correspondence about funding for children’s and young people’s mental health services.

I can assure your constituents that funding for children’s and young people’s mental health services is a priority for this Government.

On 27 March 2021, we published our Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, backed by a funding increase of £500million, to ensure that we have the right support in place over the coming year. This includes £79million to significantly expand children’s mental health services and allow for a faster increase in the coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges. This is in addition to our commitment through the NHS Long Term Plan to invest at least £2.3billion more a year in mental health services by 2023/24, so that 345,000 more children and young people can access specialist NHS-funded mental health care.

To address the impact of COVID-19 on children’s and young people’s mental health, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced an extra ÂŁ40million of funding. This includes ÂŁ10million to provide extra beds at units providing care for young people with the most complex needs, including eating disorders, and ÂŁ1.5million to ensure that there are additional facilities for children under 13.

To further support children’s and young people’s mental health, the Department for Education announced £17million of mental health funding for schools and colleges to help them recover from the challenges of the pandemic. Funding worth £9.5million will be offered for up to 7,800 schools and colleges to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the current academic year; this is part of the Government’s commitment to offer this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025.

We have also launched the ÂŁ7million Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, which provides free expert training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people who are experiencing additional pressures from the last year, including trauma, anxiety, or grief. This builds on the success of the ÂŁ8million Wellbeing for Education Return, which has been used by more than 90 per cent of councils since its launch last summer.

I hope this reply is helpful.

GILLIAN KEEGAN

On the doorsteps

I have been out and about in Wokingham, Earley and Shinfield ahead of the local elections. The main issues raised continue to be local to do with the pace and location of development and  the need for better roads and less congestion . There is still no mention of Ukraine. If asked people are concerned  about the cost of living squeeze.

There is strong support for weekly bin collections rather than less frequent and  for keeping the Council Tax down.

Good Friday Churches Together in Wokingham

I attended the coffee morning at St Paul’s Church today and enjoyed seeing the displays and tasks for the children around the Biblical account of the death of Christ. I joined those walking into town and attended the ecumenical service in the Methodist Church with 48 others from the range of Wokingham Christian Churches. I am grateful to those who organised these events under the banner of Churches Together and invited me to attend.

During the morning three told me they dislike the Conservative party and our current leader intensely and wish to see him and the party out of office. The immediate complaints related to the breaches of rules over covid in Downing Street but there were clearly wider and long standing disagreements. Local Conservatives accept the Prime Minister’s apology and do not wish to see a leadership election now given the need for clear leadership over Ukraine and the cost of living issues.

Two lobbied me against  the plans for a new approach to try to stop the trade in dangerous small boat journeys across the Channel. My email box is more balanced on this issue with some writing in wanting the new approach or questioning whether it will be sufficient to end the people trafficking, as well as some sending in a campaign email against the proposals.

Find energy grants and ways to save energy in your home

The below information on how to make your home more energy efficient has been made available on Gov.uk which I have enclosed below:

Find out how to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your bills.

The Simple Energy Advice website has advice on ways to save energy, such as:

  • insulating your loft and cavity walls
  • draught-proofing windows and doors
  • upgrading your boiler
  • installing double glazing
  • using alternative sources of energy, such as solar power

You can also find out if you’re eligible for a home energy grant to help pay for things like loft and cavity wall insulation.

Use the Energy Efficiency Calculator for personalised advice on what you can do to cut your energy bills.

Out and about on the doorsteps

My recent sessions on the doorsteps have been of particular interest. Despite the saturation coverage of the tragic war in Ukraine no-one has raised any Ukraine related issue with me in recent visits to Earley, Shinfield, Wokingham  and Winnersh. There have been some issues raised about the Spring Statement and what more the government could do to tackle the cost of living crisis. There have been no questions or suggestions about covid despite the large numbers of cases currently being reported. The occasional person has explained from a distance they are infectious and do not wish to pass it on.

Most of the conversations have been about local issues, often related to levels of development, traffic congestion, road closures and other Council matters. Emails and letters have broadly reflected the same pattern, with just three writing in on Ukrainian issues and many more on cost of living and energy matters.

Extension to the Household Support Fund

I have received the below letter from the Government Minister for Welfare delivery regarding the Household Support Fund which I would like to share:

Dear Colleague,

EXTENSION TO THE HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT FUND

Our new Way to Work campaign aims to get half a million people who are out of work into jobs in the next four months. It will support employers who need to fill their vacancies, whilst also helping claimants by improving their financial situation. Alongside this initiative, we have announced around ÂŁ400 billion since the start of the pandemic protecting jobs and incomes.

The economy is in recovery, with a record number of people on the payroll, but we recognise the inflationary challenges and that people are concerned about pressure on household budgets. That is why we are extending the Household Support Fund to provide cost of living support for households most in need, shifting the focus of the fund to include more of those people who cannot work. From April, the government is providing an additional ÂŁ500 million to help households with the cost of essentials. This brings the total funding for this support to ÂŁ1 billion. In England, ÂŁ421 million will be provided to extend the existing Household Support Fund from 1 April to 30 September inclusive. The devolved administrations will receive ÂŁ79 million through the Barnett formula. In England, the allocation for Councils is the same as for the previous 6 months.

In England, the fund will be distributed via upper-tier Local Authorities. This support will continue to help those who are struggling to afford energy and water bills, food, and other essentials, to prevent the escalation of problems. We know energy bills may be of particular concern to low income households and so Local Authorities are being encouraged to focus on supporting households with the cost of energy.

At least a third of the extension funding (ÂŁ140m) will be spent on pensioners on low incomes and at least another third (ÂŁ140m) will be spent on families with children.

This will ensure that the most vulnerable, including those unable to work to boost their income, will continue to receive vital support to help with the costs of household essentials throughout the next six months.

This extension is just one way that we are helping families with the rising cost of living and other global inflationary pressures. The government has recently announced a three-part plan of support to help households with rising energy bills, worth ÂŁ9.1 billion in 2022-23. This includes a ÂŁ200 discount on energy bills this Autumn for all domestic electricity customers in Great Britain, to be paid back automatically over the next 5 years. This also includes a ÂŁ150 non-repayable rebate in Council Tax bills for all households in bands A-D in England, as well as a ÂŁ144 million discretionary fund for Local Authorities to support households who are in need regardless of their council tax band.

We continue our focus on getting people into work. The National Living Wage will increase to ÂŁ9.50 an hour this April, providing an extra ÂŁ1000 pay for a full-time worker. This has risen every year since it was introduced in 2016. The cuts to the Universal Credit taper rate and the uplift to the work allowances will also put, on average, an extra ÂŁ1,000 a year into the pockets of 1.7 million low-income families.

These initiatives, alongside the Household Support Fund extension, will work to help those most in need over the coming months. For MPs in English constituencies, please direct constituents in need of support to their local authority who will be able to help them access the Household Support Fund. Your Council will be required to produce a plan taking into account the new conditions and guidance. I encourage you to give your thoughts directly to your council leader on how you think their scheme could be improved. For MPs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, I would encourage you to speak to the Devolved Administrations about their plans to use their allocations.

Kind regards,

David Rutley MP
Minister for Welfare Delivery

Maiden Place Post Office Reopening

I have received the below letter from the Post Office regarding the good news that Maiden Place Post Office will be reopening on the 26th April:

 

Dear Customer,

Service Re-opening
Maiden Place Post Office
10 Maiden Lane Centre, Lower Earley, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 3HD

We are delighted to let you know that we will be restoring Post Office services to Maiden Place on Tuesday 26 April 2022 at 13:00. The branch closed temporarily in October 2021 following the resignation of the postmaster.

The new service will be operated from the same premises and will offer a range of Post Office products and services. Full details of the new service are provided at the end of this letter.

I know that the local community will join me in welcoming this good news and hope that you and our customers will continue to use this service. If you are a local representative, please feel free to share this information through your social media channels and with any local groups or organisations that you know within the community for example on noticeboards, local charities and in GP surgeries, to help our customers and your constituents understand what is happening to the Post Office in the local community. If you would like a supply of posters, please let us know.

Thank you for your support in restoring a Post Office service.

Yours faithfully,

Network Provision Lead

Why donating cash rather than goods is better for Ukraine

I have received the enclosed letter from Ministers at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport:

Dear Colleagues,

Why donating cash rather than goods is better for Ukraine

Firstly, thank you to colleagues who have been in touch over the last few weeks on this matter. It is clear that you and your constituents are making great efforts to support those who have been forced to flee their homes because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As President Zelenskyy said when he spoke directly to us last week, “we are looking for help from civilised countries, and we are thankful for this help”.

As such, we wanted to give you an update on the best ways to do this. How Government is supporting Ukraine’s immediate humanitarian needs

As the Foreign Secretary wrote in her letter of Monday 7 March, the UK has now committed ÂŁ394m in aid, including ÂŁ220m in humanitarian assistance which will be used to save lives; and protect vulnerable people inside Ukraine and in the wider region.

The government’s focus is on supporting the UN and other humanitarian partners to respond effectively to the deteriorating humanitarian situation; as well as strengthen the effectiveness of the overall international humanitarian response.

Advice for the public and organisations

We welcome the public’s eagerness and generosity to support the people of Ukraine at this time of crisis. It is fantastic that the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal for Ukraine has now reached more than £130m, including £25m in government funding, our largest ever aid-match donation.

Details of the appeal and how to donate can be found on www.DEC.org.uk.

We do however request that organisations and people who would like to help do so by donating cash through trusted charities and aid organisations, rather than by donating goods. The Polish Embassy in London also reiterated this request in their statement of 01 March.

Cash can easily and safely be transferred quickly to areas where it’s needed. Individuals and aid organisations can then use it to buy what’s most appropriate at that moment. If your constituents or organisations have excess donated goods they could consider donating these to a charity shop who may, depending on the nature of these items, be able to sell these to raise cash which may support the Ukraine crisis. Alternatively, local fund-raising efforts using donated goods can also raise cash.

Unsolicited donations of goods, although well-meant, can obstruct supply chains and delay more urgent life-saving assistance from getting through given the huge logistical and coordination challenges associated with handling and onward distribution. Goods provided may not be what is most needed and run the risk of not reaching affected populations, including looting and theft or being sold further on informal markets thereby distorting the local economy. Distribution is difficult to control and manage well, particularly in conflict affected contexts – the most vulnerable like women, the elderly, disabled and children often do not receive goods.

If members of the public or organisations would still like to take forward a donation of goods we encourage them to reach out to a charity or organising body based in country to establish what is needed and how to deliver it safely before they begin to collect goods. Some useful links can be found in the attached Annex.

Once this has been done, to help facilitate transportation the Government has removed the requirement to complete unfamiliar customs paperwork. Guidance is here and an Export Support Service helpline available on 0300 303 8955. Charities can also contact their online support team.

We will continue to update you and keep you abreast of developments as the situation continues to evolve.

With thanks to you and your constituents for their generous offers of help. We have also included a link to more information on what your constituents and local charities can do to help the people of Ukraine.

Best wishes

Nigel Huddleston MP – Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society

James Cleverly MP – Minister of State for Europe and North America

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon- Minister of State for South and Central Asia, North Africa, UN & The Commonwealth, Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

Please give cash not goods for Ukraine

Government request

We do however request that organisations and people who would like to help do so by donating cash through trusted charities and aid organisations, rather than by donating goods. The Polish Embassy in London also reiterated this request in their statement of 01 March.

 

Cash can easily and safely be transferred quickly to areas where it’s needed. Individuals and aid organisations can then use it to buy what’s most appropriate at that moment. If your constituents or organisations have excess donated goods they could consider donating these to a charity shop who may, depending on the nature of these items, be able to sell these to raise cash which may support the Ukraine crisis. Alternatively, local fund-raising efforts using donated goods can also raise cash.

 

Unsolicited donations of goods, although well-meant, can obstruct supply chains and delay more urgent life-saving assistance from getting through given the huge logistical and coordination challenges associated with handling and onward distribution. Goods provided may not be what is most needed and run the risk of not reaching affected populations, including looting and theft or being sold further on informal markets thereby distorting the local economy. Distribution is difficult to control and manage well, particularly in conflict affected contexts – the most vulnerable like women, the elderly, disabled and children often do not receive goods.

 

If members of the public or organisations would still like to take forward a donation of goods we encourage them to reach out to a charity or organising body based in country to establish what is needed and how to deliver it safely before they begin to collect goods. Some useful links can be found in the attached Annex.

 

Once this has been done, to help facilitate transportation the Government has removed the requirement to complete unfamiliar customs paperwork. Guidance is here and an Export Support Service helpline available on 0300 303 8955. Charities can also contact their online support team.

 

We will continue to update you and keep you abreast of developments as the situation continues to evolve.

 

With thanks to you and your constituents for their generous offers of help. We have also included a link to more information on what your constituents and local charities can do to help the people of Ukraine.

 

Best wishes,

 

 

 

 

Nigel Huddleston MP

Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society

James Cleverly MP

Minister of State for Europe and North America

 

 

 

 

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon

Minister of State for South and Central Asia, North Africa,

UN & The Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

 

Annex

 

  • In Poland the authorities have issued a statement calling on the UK public not to provide further in-kind donations, as previously mentioned above. Specific offers can still be channelled through their official website (https://pomagamukrainie.gov.pl/) and a Polish NGO forum coordinated by PHA (Polish Humanitarian Action) includes a number of national and international NGOs and the Polish Red Cross. You can register to be part of that forum here or contact the Polish Red Cross (PCK) office@pck.pl.
  • In Romania the government has set up a platform to coordinate donations and to link them with needs on the other side of the border (https://www.gov.ro/ro/ucraina-impreuna-ajutam-mai- mult). Note this website is currently only available in Romanian.
  • FCDO is in touch with the Governments of Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova as to whether they have plans to set up similar coordinating bodies. We are similarly not aware of any body endorsed by the Government of Ukraine able to coordinate the delivery of already donated goods directly into Ukraine.

 

  • Where private sector organisations wish to explore in kind donations, we encourage them to explore opportunities through any existing partnerships with the UN, the Red Cross or NGOs that they already have in place; or reach out to established registered charities on The Charity Commission and Fundraising regulator website at UK.

 

  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also encourage companies to refrain from sending unsolicited donations that may not correspond to identified needs or meet international quality standards. Financial/cash donations are more effective than in-kind donations. However, for businesses wishing to contribute in-kind goods or services, please reach out to OCHA with as much detail as possible, including what items they may wish to donate and how much, the time frame for delivery, details on shipping and any other conditions. They can then guide business to most appropriate recipient organization(s). Companies with employees, suppliers, or customers in the country or region, or those with existing agreements with responding humanitarian organizations should aim to provide support directly to these groups. For more information, please contact ocha-ers- ps@un.org.

How to donate support to the Ukrainian people

I have been approached by constituents about how best they can donate to support the people of Ukraine.  I have received this useful advice from the Foreign Office.

Donations in Kind

The UK welcomes the UK public’s eagerness to support the people of Ukraine at this time. We do however request that organisations and people who would like to help donate cash through trusted charities and aid organisations, rather than donating goods. Cash can be transferred quickly to areas where it’s needed and individuals and aid organisations can use it to buy what’s most needed. The Polish Embassy in London recently released this statement asking the UK public not to organise further in kind donations. Unsolicited donations of goods, although well-meant, can obstruct supply chains and delay more urgent life-saving assistance from getting through given the huge logistical and coordination challenges associated with handling and onward distribution. Goods provided may not be what is most needed and run the risk of not reaching affected populations, including looting and theft or being sold further on informal markets thereby distorting the local economy. Distribution is difficult to control and manage well, particularly in conflict affected contexts – the most vulnerable like women, the elderly, disabled and children often do not receive goods. If members of the public would still like to take forward a donation of goods we encourage you reach out to a charity or organising body based in the country where you intend to donate to establish what is needed and how to deliver it before you begin to collect goods:

In Poland the authorities have issued a statement calling on the UK public not to provide further in-kind donations. Specific offers can still be channelled through their official website (https://pomagamukrainie.gov.pl/) and a Polish NGO forum coordinated by PAH (Polish Humanitarian Action) includes a number of national and international NGOs and the Polish Red Cross. You can register to be part of that forum here or contact the Polish Red Cross (PCK) zarzad.glowny@pck.pl / head.office@pck.pl