I am writing this as Buckingham Palace has just put out a statement to say, ‘The Queen’s doctors are concerned for her Majesty’s health and recommended she remain under medical supervision’. This is very worrying. Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty and her family as we hope desperately for better news.
Well, where do I start this week?
The leadership contest was concluded, and as expected Liz Truss became the Prime Minister. The new PM had served loyally under 3 PM’s, was respected by those who worked with her, and it is clear she is ready to hit the ground running to tackle the cost-of-living challenges and demonstrate how Conservative principles deliver jobs, growth and keep money in people’s pockets.
Colleagues were then anxiously looking at their phones hoping for the call to either become or remain Ministers as part of her new team. Points West had asked if I was hopeful, and I admitted I was more likely to get a call from Gareth Southgate to the England World Cup squad! I have enjoyed my roles in DWP and as the Deputy Chairman of the Party under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson – the new PM understandably wants to reward those who have been supportive of her campaign, and I wish them all the best of luck in their respective new roles.
Turning to the cost-of-living challenge. The Government will bring forward emergency legislation to establish a new Energy Price Guarantee which will ensure that the average household pays no more than £2,500 per year for their energy bills for the next two years from October.
This will save households at least £1,000 per year – giving certainty on energy prices, slowing inflation and making incomes go further. We will maintain the £400 Energy Bill support for everyone, and the £1,200 of support for the most vulnerable households. There will be a discretionary fund for those living in park homes, or who use heating oil in rural areas.
Businesses will be offered an equivalent guarantee for six months for those hit by rising prices, and after those six months we will provide further support for vulnerable sectors, such as hospitality, including our local pubs. We will work with businesses to review where this should be targeted.
Crucially we are also taking action to ensure that we are never in this position again, which has allowed Putin to weaponise energy supplies.
We will ramp up energy supply and fix the regulation of our energy market. We will end the moratorium on shale extraction to get gas flowing as soon as six months' time, boost renewables including wind and solar, launch Great British Nuclear, and create a pro-investor environment to get more domestic supply projects off the ground, faster.
The last piece of Government business concluded this week was the passing of the regulations to ‘scrap the 6 months rule’ for terminally ill people. I triggered these changes whilst the Disability Minister. This will simplify and speed up access to much needed financial support from 16 weeks to 5 days access for those with the devasting news that they are terminally ill. I am grateful for all the work and support of the charities and organisations like Marie Curie, MND and Parkinsons UK who helped me draw up these changes – my proudest achievement in Parliament as a Minister.