I have had a productive week in Parliament working on several issues directly related to North Cornwall and on some which have national relevance. It was great to meet with Michael Gove and to discuss Departmental business and the upcoming plans for Levelling Up and Communities. We've now closed the second homes loophole, but I know there is more work to do on the issue. Cornwall is a very welcoming place but if people chose to spend some of their time here in a second home it is only right that they share the financial burden placed on our local services. I have raised this issue with Ministers regularly over the years and I am delighted to be part of the Government that has acted on it. Prior to my election as MP, I worked the post-round in the Rock area, which has the highest rates of second homes and holiday lets in Cornwall. I saw first-hand the effect this had on my local community, so I am very pleased that my Cornish MP colleagues and I were able to not only place this issue at the heart of the Government's agenda but also deliver it for our constituents.
As part of my duties in the Government Whips office, I work closely with the Justice Secretary and I am pleased to see that we have announced an increase in magistrates’ sentencing power, allowing them to give up to 12-month prison sentences – double what they can currently give – helping to drive down the backlog of court cases and speed up justice. Magistrates are the lynchpins of our legal system but the backlog of cases from the pandemic means we must take a fresh approach to deliver justice. Doubling the sentence, a magistrate can give from 6 to 12 months’ imprisonment means they will now be able to sentence more serious cases such as fraud, burglary, and assault. This will free up around 1,700 crown court sitting days a year, delivering the speedy justice that victims of crime deserve as we build back safer from the pandemic.
I am also very pleased that the TV licence fee will be frozen for two years – supporting families to keep the cost of living down. We cannot justify asking hard-working households to pay more for their TV licence when the cost of living is already increasing. That is why we have introduced a new licence fee settlement which will freeze the TV licence from 1 April 2022 – the fee will remain at £159 until 2024, before rising with inflation for four years. This will help hard-working people to keep costs down over the coming years while giving the BBC what it needs to continue delivering services. In the long term, I support the proposals of the removal of the licence fee altogether. I have surveyed constituents and the responses indicated a subscription model for the BBC is their preferred model.
I am currently running a survey to find out what your priorities for North Cornwall are. Please click HERE.