On 11th May, Her Majesty the Queen delivered one of the most ambitious policy programmes in a generation. As we focus on the vaccine rollout and easing restrictions, we must also get on and deliver on the promises we made to the country in 2019. The Queen’s speech outlined precisely that.
Since the start of 2019, I have received close to 3,000 emails from constituents asking for action to improve animal welfare in this country. The government has listened. In this session of parliament, we will be introducing three comprehensive bills addressing a range of issues from pet primates to banning live animal imports, which we were unable to do as an EU member.
A further 22 bills will be introduced to parliament delivering on the priorities of the British people. The bills include substantive reform to our asylum system, which will ensure resources are dedicated to those with a genuine need and away from people traffickers, as well as legislation banning gay conversion therapy and boosting educational opportunities for adults as part of our nationwide levelling up programme.
Health, of course, has a crucial role to play as we start to rebuild the nation. We will continue our lifesaving vaccine programme and prioritise recovery in NHS services, bringing down waiting times and delivering the care people need. I know, too, that many constituents are concerned about social care and the added pressures being placed on social care by an ageing population. As such, I am pleased the government is bringing forward proposals for social care reform in 2021, ensuring every person receives care that provides the dignity and security they deserve.
Furthermore, as of 19th May, more than 70 per cent of adults in the UK have been vaccinated with a first dose of a Covid-19 jab, with almost 40 per cent of people having been vaccinated with both doses. I am immensely proud of this phenomenal achievement, which has been made possible by the tireless work of doctors, nurses, volunteers, local authorities and civil servants in every corner of the UK.
I am also proud of the Conservative party’s performance in the recent elections, especially here in Stratford-on-Avon. Nationally, the result was an additional 235 councillors and 13 more councils. The Conservatives gained six seats on Warwickshire County Council and, notably, won all bar two wards in the Stratford district. These results represent a vote of confidence in a government that is delivering for the country and delivering for Stratford-on-Avon.
It is clear local government has played a vital role on the ground during this pandemic, for people and businesses. WCC has launched a £300,000 initiative – Survive, Sustain and Grow – which will offer advice to support businesses in their recovery from the pandemic. This complements existing support, such as the Adapt and Diversify grant scheme, offering up to £20,000 for capital purchases, and the WCC Growth Fund, which provides funding for the county’s small and micro businesses.
I am delighted that this support is available as we rise from the ashes of the pandemic, and rising we are. While there is no room for complacency, and it is more important than ever that we get our vaccines, we have taken another significant stride towards exiting restrictions by entering Step 3.
We must keep our eyes on the prize and not let our determination waver. When you get the call, get the jab.