The Conservative Party Conference took place in Manchester this week. It is great the North West gets to host this major event as the Conference brings in around £30 million for our local economy.
I enjoyed catching up with Conservative activists from around the country and especially meeting charities and other organisations looking to take part in addressing the issues our country faces.
There were some very positive announcements that I believe will benefit Pendle. On Monday, we heard an extra £400 million will go towards transport improvements in the North, with £100 million going towards addressing congestion on our roads, and £300 million on improving rail links between our towns and cities.
Transport spending across the North is already at record levels. £13 billion will have been spent on improving and modernising transport links across our region by 2020 and in Pendle we are seeing motorway junction improvements and new trains, but we need more.
Then on Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced in her speech an energy price cap with draft legislation to be introduced in Parliament this coming week. This could save some people £100 a year off their energy bills.
I have long been concerned about the cost of rising energy prices for households in Pendle. The Competition and Markets Authority estimate we are all paying £1.4 billion too much for energy. For too long the energy market has just not been working. It is time the Government addressed this.
Less prominent but equally important was the Prime Minister’s announcement of an opt-out system for organ donation. Tragically, 500 people die waiting for a transplant each year but with an opt-out system, more organs will be available and more lives saved. Those who, for whatever reason, do not want their organs donated in the event of their death, will still be able to make that choice and rightly so.
There were other important announcements on tackling poor mental health and a welcome £2 billion boost to the affordable housing budget. The focus is now back on Parliament and putting these policies into effect over the coming weeks and months.