Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Spring Statement

The Chancellor has delivered his Spring Statement. Through the cut in Fuel Duty and the biggest net cut to personal taxes in over a quarter of a century, the Chancellor has announced a strong plan to ease the cost of living. 

The measures mean people across Tynedale and Ponteland have immediate help with the rising cost of living, businesses have better conditions to invest and grow, and people keep more of what they earn for years to come.

Please see the headline announcements made during the statement: 

Fuel duty cut by 5p per litre  
  • from 6pm this evening lasting for a year 
  • Motoring group, the RAC, says cutting fuel duty by 5p will take £3.30 off the cost of filling a typical 55-litre family car. 
National Insurance threshold increased by £3,000 
  • bringing it up to £12,570 to equalize with the income tax personal allowance (People with Income around £35k next year will be better off under this change) 
  • resisted calls to scrap the 12.5pc rise entirely to fund the Health and Social Care Levy (HSCL)  
Basic rate income tax to be cut by 1p in 2024  
  • first cut to the basic rate of income tax in 16 years - from 20% to 19% - by the end of Parliament in 2024.
VAT abolished on insulating homes 
  • this policy will be widened to apply to homeowners having materials like solar panels, heat pumps or insulation installed. 
The Household Support Fund for local councils  
  • to help the most vulnerable will be doubled to £1bn from April 
Retail hospitality and leisure sectors will have a 50% discount in business rates up to £110,000 

Raising the employment allowance to £5,000 
  • delivering a £1,000 tax cut for half a million small businesses

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Supporting Ukrainians coming to the UK

My team and I are currently supporting several residents across Tynedale and Ponteland to assist their family and friends from Ukraine coming to the UK. 

The government has announced measures to support Ukrainians coming to the UK. I thought it would be useful to set these out. As ever, if you have any questions or require support, please contact my office my emailing: 

Ukraine Family Scheme visa (from


To apply to the Ukraine Family Scheme you must:

  • be applying to join or accompany your UK-based family member; and
  • be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme; and
  • have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine)
  • You can apply if you’ve already arrived in the UK and meet the requirements above.
Ukrainians with passports do not have to travel to a visa application centre to give their biometrics before they can come to the UK. 

More information on the Ukraine Family Scheme visa can be found HERE

Homes For Ukraine (Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme)

Phase One of the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme opened on Friday 18 March for visa applications from those who wish to travel to the UK and who have named people in the UK willing to sponsor them.

For the users, this is designed to be a digital process (an additional step applies if an applicant from Ukraine does not have a passport).

The government are asking sponsors to offer accommodation for at least 6 months.

What do I need to do as a sponsor?

Individual sponsors in the UK can be of any nationality, with any immigration status, providing they have at least 6 months’ leave to remain in the UK, so that they can provide at least six months’ accommodation. They can live in any part of the UK.

To ensure a safe and suitable environment for people arriving from Ukraine the government will be going to be carrying out checks (background and in-person) on you as a sponsor, your family and the accommodation that you will provide.

For example, the accommodation should be safe and free from health hazards, be heated and give your guests adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities. 

For further information, and to register your interest in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, please click HERE.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Stannington First School going from strength to strength

On Friday, I visited Stannington First School. 

The school has undergone major transformative change since I last visited many years ago. 

It was great to meet with the Headteacher Mrs. Palmer, Cllr Guy Renner - Thompson responsible for schools in Northumberland and Cllr Lyle Darwin. 

I also has the privilege of presenting the Artmark Award to the school. Pupils and staff at the school received the prestigious Artsmark Award, which celebrates arts, culture and creativity in schools.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Supporting the campaign to remove Heddon fence

Over the weekend, I spoke with residents in Heddon-on-the-Wall on Centurion Way.

There is a pending planning application for 4 houses, but the developers have unilaterally put in a boundary fence which is:

clearly on council land

is too high

without permission 

encroaches on Karbon Homes land and possible prescriptive rights 

and against basic good manners to the residents who are rightly upset

I have urged Northumberland County Council to take urgent action on this. It is irrelevant to the planning application.

I have spent time on Sunday speaking to very upset residents. I share their upset.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Support for Ukraine

I am working closely with Northumberland County Council to support people in Ukraine. I know that people across the county are keen to help where they are able to.

Aid providers are kindly asking for the below items. I will follow this post up with another when official drop-off points are announced.

Thank you for your support.

Personal hygiene products

- soaps, shower gels, shampoos and hair conditioners, hairbrushes

- toothbrushes and toothpaste, for children and adults

- antiperspirants and deodorants (mainly for women but also for men)

- face creams and tonics, hand creams for women.

- sanitary towels, tampons, panty liners

- larger sanitary pads for women in puerperium and nursing pads (breastfeeding pads)

- wet wipes, nappies of various sizes, tissues, cotton pads

Medical supplies

- first aid kits

- bandages, gauze and swabs, tourniquets, plasters, disposable gloves

- anti-pain, anti-fever and anti-inflammatory drugs for children and adults

- vitamins for children

- something for the cough, sore throat, stomach problems, nasal drops.

For children, to keep them occupied and distracted, to make them smile:

- colouring books and crayons/markers

- small puzzles

- small soft toys/ cuddly toys

- sweets: chocolates, bars, snacks, etc.

And also:

- baby porridge, baby rice, fruit/vegetable snacks in tubes (not jars),

-instant foods such as soups, etc.,

-long-term foods such as canned food, etc.,

-paper towels, cutlery and disposable plates

- sleeping bags, mats, blankets

- power banks, batteries, flashlights

Clothing in different sizes (please bring NEW items):

- women's and children's underwear

- cotton T-shirts, sweatshirts and tracksuits,

- thermoactive clothing

- cotton leggings for women

- women's slippers, children's and women's pyjamas

- bath towels

British Red Cross are taking financial donations

Thursday, 3 March 2022

World Book Day (3rd March)

Today is World Book Day. It recognises how books change lives.

The mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own. 

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. 

Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

I would encourage you to visit the amazing independent book shops across Tynedale. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine

Yesterday, in the House of Commons, I had the honour of expressing my solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

We must not let the acts of a dictator triumph over democracy. The entire country is united in support for you.