It has been a very busy few weeks in Parliament and I was very excited that we have announced plans to publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper. The paper will set out bold new policy interventions that will continue to deliver on the promises we made to the whole of the UK, and especially rural constituencies like North Cornwall at the last general election. Levelling up is at the heart of my agenda for North Cornwall and was at the centre of the 2019 manifesto. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, I am committed to ensuring that North Cornwall can benefit from the same opportunities as the rest of the UK. That is why we will publish a Levelling Up White Paper later this year – led by the Prime Minister – to focus on challenges faced across the country including improving living standards, growth, and increasing and spreading opportunity.
After such a challenging year, there has never been a more important time to unite and level up the country by bringing opportunities to every single part of the UK.
Another area that I have focused on is housing and homebuilding. Last week we announced our ‘Help to Build’ scheme with over £150 million in new funding to make it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes. Building your own home shouldn’t be the preserve of a small number of people, but a mainstream, realistic and affordable option for people across the country. That is why we are making it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes through our £150 million ‘Help to Build’ scheme, which will provide an equity loan on the completed home and lower the required deposit. These plans will help get more people on to the housing ladder, ensure homes suit people’s needs, whilst providing an important boost to small builders and businesses after the pandemic.
More than half the UK population have now received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine – a true UK success story. We have administered a total of 45.5 million vaccines across the UK, helping to cut infection rates and reduce the spread of the virus. We have offered vaccinations to everyone in the nine highest priority groups – a significant milestone in our vaccination programme. This means more than 33.5 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against Covid-19 and that we can now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July. Over 12 million people have received their second dose, meaning those most vulnerable to the virus now have the best possible protection. We are encouraging everyone to take up their second dose when it's their turn, to ensure maximum protection.