Last week in Parliament we confirmed that ‘Harper’s Law’ will be added to the statute book, giving Emergency workers greater protection from violent criminals. After the shocking and tragic murder of PC Harper in the line of duty in 2019, his family have been unwavering in their campaign to increase the protections for emergency workers against violent criminals. That is why we have confirmed that we are extending mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty – including police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics – while carrying out another crime unless there are truly exceptional circumstances. We are determined to make sure that punishments fit the severity of the crime, protecting our emergency workers and making sure those who seek to harm them feel the full force of the law.
The Universal Credit boost for workers announced in the Autumn Budget has now come into effect, helping the lowest-income families in the country and making sure that work pays. In the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor set out further plans to ensure that work pays and that those on the lowest incomes are protected. That is why we announced plans to cut the Universal Credit taper rate, and as of today, it has been cut by eight pence, from 63p to 55p. Combined with the £500 increase in the Work Allowance, this will help hard-working families in the run-up to Christmas and allow them to keep an additional £1,000 a year of what they earn. This will provide an important boost to the lowest-income families across North Cornwall.
One of the biggest issues facing our NHS in Cornwall is recruitment and retention of staff. This is something that I have consistently told colleagues in Westminster that we need to address. There are several ways that we can do this at the local level, and one of the ideas I have put forward is that we should make key-worker housing part of new developments. We can also do more to help in government so I’m very pleased to see that changes to workforce planning have been addressed and we have announced reforms to put the recruitment, training, and retention of staff, as well as digital transformation, – including merging the bodies responsible for the education and training of the health workforce at the heart of the NHS. These reforms will help patients benefit from the best possible care, with the right staff in place to meet their needs and support. It will also help North Cornwall to bring in new staff and I hope in future, expand training opportunities for local people to enter the NHS workforce.