Derby Telegraph Column – 12th October 2017

At the recent Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister outlined a range of new policies on issues which will impact on Amber Valley residents, from social housing to energy bills.

A welcome announcement related to affordable and social housing, detailed the increase in the Government’s affordable housing budget by £2 billion to more than £9 billion, which will allow a new generation of council houses and homes to be built for social rent. The Government will also provide stable investment environment for councils and housing associations to support the delivery of new homes by giving certainty over future social rents. I welcome this step towards helping fix the broken housing market.

The Prime Minister also announced at conference the plan to publish a draft Bill on capping energy bills which has now been published. I welcome this draft legislation which will bring an end to rip-off energy prices. The Draft Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariffs Cap) Bill will work in addition to Ofgem’s announcement to extend its existing price cap, by allowing Ofgem to bring in a price cap on the poor value tariffs that exploit customer loyalty. This would protect around two-thirds of households.

The Safeguard Tariff will be designed by Ofgem, who will be tasked with setting it at such a level that it still leaves considerable motivation for consumers to shop around for the best deal, but improves the terrible prices paid by some people. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee will scrutinise the draft legislation, helping to ensure a cross-party consensus on the workings of an energy price cap. I welcome the benefits this legislation will have on residents of Amber Valley helping to make bills for essential services more affordable.

In other news the Environment Secretary has proposed a ban on ivory sales to help bring an end to the poaching of elephants.  The proposals will protect elephants and help combat poaching by removing opportunities for criminals to trade illegally-poached ivory. The plans will be subject to a 12-week consultation and cover items of all ages, not only those created after a certain date.

The number of elephants has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory. If current rates of poaching continue, elephants could become extinct within decades in some African countries, meaning that future generations of children may only see these majestic creatures alive in zoos. I thoroughly welcome this proposed soft ban on ivory sales which many people have been increasingly calling for and represents good progress for the Elephant Protection Initiative which the Government helped launch at the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2014.