With 2018 well underway, it is encouraging to see Government focusing on reshaping the national agenda: housing, the environment and opportunities for young people becoming lead pillars of Government policy.
Brexit will inevitably continue to occupy space on the political stage, as we move towards 2019, but the re-emergence of policy development on important domestic issues that affect everyone’s daily life is hugely welcome.
I am particularly encouraged by the Government’s commitment to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. The Homelessness Reduction Act, an ambitious reform, comes into effect in April 2018. The Act will transform homelessness services focusing on prevention. Local authorities will work with people at risk of losing their homes to focus on their needs and circumstances, acting before a person becomes homeless so they get the help they need before a homelessness crisis happens. The Government has allocated £1 billion of funding through to 2020 to reduce and prevent homelessness.
There is much to be positive about in Telford too, as we reflect on the year ahead. There are more skilled manufacturing jobs coming to Telford; more lower paid people taken out of tax altogether, keeping more of the money they earn; more good and outstanding schools across Telford creating opportunities for our young people; and if our Hospital Trust finalises its plans, significant capital investment in major long term development for the future, at both of Shropshire’s hospitals.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed record numbers of people in work, and as we moved to the end of 2017, we gained commitments to improve local rail services, with an extra train an hour to Birmingham and much needed extra capacity. The Council has also promised welcome improvements to revitalise our high streets.
The Chancellor’s Budget towards the end of 2017 brought good news, too, with the cut in Stamp Duty providing a welcome ‘foot up’ for those looking to get on the housing ladder in the area, and a promise of pay increases for many public sector workers.
So, not only will we be celebrating Telford’s 50th anniversary in 2018, we will also be marking the 100thanniversary of the end of World War I; 100 years of women’s suffrage; and, of course, the 70th birthday of our NHS.
We have much to be proud of, much to celebrate and much cause for optimism in 2018. Happy New Year Telford!